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Massachusetts Police Chief Challenges Big Pharma CEOs to Help Revolutionize Public Response to Addiction
For anyone even remotely interested in addiction treatment and recovery, the amazing story of Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello’s campaign to revolutionize police handling of opioid addicts will warm your heart and even fire up your determination to get involved.
Chief Leonard Campanello of the Gloucester, Mass. Police Dept. (GPD), has embarked on a journey that could revolutionize how police across America deal with victims of substance abuse – particularly opioid addiction.
At the same time, it also might change for the better how the treatment industry is perceived, both by the public and by officialdom in general.
The chief’s message is simple: “Addiction isn’t a crime, it’s a condition that requires treatment. If anyone walks into the GPD and asks for help with their opioid addiction, we get that person into treatment immediately – no questions asked – and no charges when they hand over their drugs and paraphernalia.”
We’ve heard it said a million times. But Chief Campanello is making it come true in no uncertain terms. Since introducing the program earlier this year, the GPD has helped literally hundreds of addicts find beds and get into treatment – the figure was over 200 back in early September. In other times, under more common circumstances, most of these people would have wound up behind bars, going through the hell of unassisted and dangerous withdrawal.
Campanello has founded the non-profit Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, called PAARI for short. Gloucester’s program of helping addicts into treatment is called “the ANGEL initiative.” He invites other towns and cities in the state and across the country to join the revolution against the rote, often inhuman and always ineffective handling of alcohol and drug addicts by most law enforcement procedures.
It seems to be working. Several other city police forces are showing interest, and at least two have joined PAARI and are applying the Gloucester principles. The Rolling Meadows, Illinois Police Department has joined PAARI and initiated its own “Second Chance” program. And the Scarborough, Maine Police Department has joined PAARI with its own “Operation Hope.”
There is always a challenge to find treatment beds for addicts, but the PDs say they’re determined to not make addicts wait.
Challenging the pharmaceutical company CEOs
The GPD uses its Facebook page to keep the public informed on what’s happening in the local law enforcement world. Along with regular Twitter posts and blog posts, the Gloucester PD has a large, devoted and vocal following.
The idea that has attracted the most media attention, which led to a feature article in the Washington Post, involved his recent challenge to the top five Big Pharma CEOs to get on board the treatment and prevention bandwagon.
On a recent Facebook page, under the heading Gotta go make some calls, the chief printed the names, phone numbers and salaries of the five top-earning Big Pharma CEOs, from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly and Co.
Here’s the gist of Campanello’s Facebook post:
“Top 5 Pharmaceutical CEO Salaries:
5. Eli Lilly – John Lechleiter $14.48 million
4. Abbott Labs – Miles D. White $17.7 million
3. Merck – Kenneth C. Frazier
$25 million + cool private jet.
2. Johnson & Johnson – Alex Gorsky $20.38 million
1. Pfizer – Ian Read $23.3 million
“They’re all on Forbes Top 100 CEO salaries as well.
“In 2013 The Huffington Post reported that the 11 largest pharmaceutical companies made $711 BILLION in profits in the last decade while their CEO’s made a combined $1.57 BILLION in the same period. Sources: Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Salaries.com, Forbes.
“Now…don’t get mad. Just politely ask them what they are doing to address the opioid epidemic in the United States and if they realize that the latest data shows almost 80% of addicted persons start with a legally prescribed drug that they make. They can definitely be part of the solution here and I believe they will be….might need a little push.”
The FB post has received 2,832 “likes” and has been “shared” 2,544 times. Over 300 comments illustrate the high level of interest in discussing addiction and Big Pharma among visitors. Many offered other avenues for the police and other officials to pursue. And plenty of them describe their calls and emails to the pharmaceutical executives.
The Big Pharma CEO post has begun to work, Campanello announced recently. Pfizer has called to set up a meeting with the chief. And other calls are expected.
“Pssst….Pfizer called (honestly),” Campanello posted on FB recently. “We are meeting with them. When you continue to make your calls, thank them because they could have ignored us all. Instead, within 48 hours they responded. We’ve got Mass Assisted Health Plans at the table (MAHP). They’re doing good things. Treatment Providers are removing barriers daily. More police agencies are signing onto to PAARI.
“This is not because of us, this is because of YOU,” he added.
Gloucester seen as “model for all PDs”
Since changing police procedure earlier this year, Chief Campanello’s ideas are garnering continued positive public and official response – and more media attention. The Gloucester PD is being called “the model for all police departments in America.”
So far, the PAARI program and Gloucester’s ANGEL initiative have been featured on ABC News, FOX News, NBC News, CBS News, NPR, Boston.com and dozens of regional newspapers and radio and television news stations.
It’s a big deal. The public wants addicts to receive the treatment they need, not a jail cell.
On his Facebook entry about the Pfizer meeting, Campanello said the following, which gives a clear picture of why he’s so popular, and why his ideas are catching on:
“No way we are arresting someone who comes in for help. No way are we judging anyone. People with addiction are doing their part every day by walking into the police station and asking for help.
“We’ve proved there are beds. We’ve facilitated nearly 200 people into treatment in 3 1/2 months. We are seeing a reduction of addiction related ancillary criminal complaints.
“Now we’ve reached providers, insurance, and pharma is starting to come onboard.
“Next up: Prescription Monitoring System interconnectivity between states, education and sanctions for MD’s who would continue to blatantly overprescribe, and finding out the relationship between legislators and health care…hmmm. We’ve said it before…if law enforcement can step up and say “We’re sorry…we should have done this years ago” then so should everyone else. There are entities who have to admit things were approached incorrectly and take part in correcting the system. If they do that, law enforcement has no issues with them. We don’t want to be in the health care business…but we are really good at holding people accountable.
“With your support…this is becoming a change in the conversation.
“You all are truly pioneers in this and we are so proud to be part of your voice.
Everyone here at Novus Medical Detox Center wishes Chief Campanello all the best with his campaign. We are 100 percent in support of any and all efforts to get people off drugs as soon as possible. Long, drawn-out and usually disappointing “alternative drug therapy” is not our idea of getting your life back. That’s why we offer our patients the most comfortable and effective detoxification possible, one that also produces a real health boost to help rehab work better and faster.
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