City Council approves new licensing rules for pharmaceutical reps

Passed last November 9 days after the election.  Takes effect July 1st.

City Council approves new licensing rules for pharmaceutical reps

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The Chicago City Council has passed an ordinance that requires pharmaceutical representatives to carry a special license and report sales data to city officials, measures that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says will prevent deceptive marketing by drug salespersons and reduce opioid painkiller abuse.

The ordinance passed on Wednesday by a unanimous vote and will take effect in July 2017, the Chicago Tribune reported.

It requires pharmaceutical reps to record and report to the city the number of health care professionals they’ve contacted, the types of drugs promoted, any samples provided, and if doctors were paid for their time.

In addition to the reporting requirements, sales reps will have to acquire a special license to operate within the city limits. The permits have to be renewed annually and will cost $750 each. Drug reps who break the rules or operate without the required license will also be fined between $1,000 and $3,000 for each violation or day of violations, the Tribune reported.

Advocates for the new ordinance, including city Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita, have said the regulations are necessary to curb deceptive sales practices and reduce opioid addiction, which has become a major public health problem across the country.

In Chicago, 403 people accidentally died from opioid overdoses last year, according to a report released last month by the Chicago-Cook County Task Force on Heroin. (Commentary: fewer deaths than a holiday weekend in Chicago)

Pharmaceutical companies and industry groups have questioned the need for the new licensing rules, calling them a “harmful tax increase” that do little to address the underlying problem of opioid abuse. A group of 16 pharmaceutical organizations, including Lake Forest-based Horizon Pharma, wrote a letter to the City Council calling the regulations “unnecessary” and “duplicative,” the Tribune reported.

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