July 20, 2017

Mayor Emanuel Announces City's Opioid Addiction Treatment Expansion

Investments in overdose antidote reversed approximately 1,500 overdoses last year, $700K investment will provide treatment for 1,000 residents of South and West Sides

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO—Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced progress and investments in the City’s ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and improve health. Building on the success of investments in opioid overdose reversal, the City is investing $700,000 in opioid addiction treatment for an additional 1,000 residents this year, through partnerships with south and west side community providers and the Cook County Jail.

“The opioid epidemic is destroying families across the United States and Chicago is no exception,” said Mayor Emanuel. “In Chicago we are combatting this epidemic head on, finding new ways to invest in communities, save lives and beat addiction.”

The city's recent $250,000 investment in naloxone, a life-saving medication that stops an opioid overdose, contributed to 1,544 lifesaving reversals in the past year, especially in North Lawndale and greater Englewood. In addition, Chicago Recovery Alliance, which received the funding, has distributed 4,541 naloxone kits using the City’s investment.

“We're investing in treatment that works, especially in medications that help residents regain independence and overcome addiction,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD. We must eradicate the stigma of seeking effective treatment so thousands of Chicago residents can live longer, healthier lives.”

Seven community organizations focused primarily on Chicago’s south and west sides will receive $700,000 through the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC) to expand evidence-based opioid addition treatment. Organizations include PCC Wellness, Access Community Health Network, the Women's Treatment Center, Sinai Health System, Esperanza Health Center, Haymarket Center and Lawndale Christian Health Center. In addition, the grant will fund Cook County Jail through the Cook County Health Foundation with Cermak Health Services.  For instance, Access Health will serve residents of West Englewood, Back of the Yards and South Chicago, while PCC Wellness Center will serve South Austin and West Garfield Park. Cermak Health will work with residents in Cook County Jail and bond court to provide medication-assisted treatment within the jail system. Funding to additional organizations will expand their capacity to provide medical, clinical and community screening interventions and treatment.

“Our efforts are focused on reaching individuals struggling with substance use disorders in a way that reduces stigma and focuses on life-saving treatment” said Karen A. Reitan, Executive Director of the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC). “It’s about being on the ground supporting the organizations that know the impacted populations.”

The treatment funding will go toward treatment using evidence-based medications such as buprenorphine and methadone—as well as to support services that make treatment more effective, for example counseling, navigation of the health system, and transportation to get patients to appointments.

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), in addition to overseeing the treatment investment, is hosting trainings and has created a learning collaborative to help health centers learn best practices in providing effective opioid use disorder treatment.

This work follows recommendations made in October 2016 by the Chicago and Cook County Task Force on Heroin, which Mayor Emanuel took a lead role in convening. Under the Mayor’s leadership, the City has undertaken numerous efforts to fight opioid addiction. In 2014, the City sued five big drug companies for deceptive marketing of prescription opioids and for misleading experts and patients about the risks of OxyContin and other narcotics, helping to fuel the opioid epidemic. In 2016, Mayor Emanuel reached a major agreement with Pfizer to ensure strict standards in its marketing and promotion of opioids. In addition, the Chicago Police Department is conducting a pilot program that diverts low-level drug offenders to treatment in lieu of an arrest and criminal record. The City is also developing a community education effort privately funded at $350,000 by Pfizer, CVS and Walgreens.
Last week, the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the launch of a new Regulated Business License for Pharmaceutical Representatives to support the City’s efforts to stop deceptive marketing and curb addiction to opioids and other prescription drugs.  Beginning July 1, any person who markets or promotes pharmaceuticals in Chicago is required to obtain a license, complete mandatory ethics training, receive continuing education and be subject to potential disclosure of their interactions with health care professionals, including gifts.