The Gloucester Police Department has gotten clever again in its attempt to combat nationwide drug addiction.

The Massachusetts city's police chief, Leonard Campanello, took to Facebook last week with a snarky message — "Gotta go make some calls" — followed by the names, phone numbers and salaries of the top-earning pharmaceutical executives from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly and Co.

The point, he said, was to encourage people to put pressure on drug makers to do their part in inhibiting opiate addiction.

"Don't get mad," Campanello wrote in the Sept. 16 post. "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 percent 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 post has since been shared more than 1,500 times.

"I think you are the most caring, empathetic, and human beings for doing this for our children and loved ones that are plagued with this insidious disease!" one commentor wrote.

Within 48 hours, the police chief's post seemed to be having the desired effect.

Campanello noted that he received a response from Pfizer, which wanted to sit down and chat.

"Pfizer called (honestly)," Campanello posted in a message. "We are meeting with them.

"Addiction is a disease. 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."

Pfizer confirmed to the Boston Globe that a representative will speak with authorities.

"With your support ... this is becoming a change in the conversation," Campanello wrote. "You all are truly pioneers in this and we are so proud to be part of your voice."

It's not the first time Gloucester police have taken an unconventional approach to dealing with the addiction epidemic. The department previously announced the "Angel program," designed to rehabilitate drug addicts instead of putting them behind bars.

“If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you," Campanello wrote on Facebook in March. "We know you do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the City that can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.”

Health-care authorities who have studied trends behind the country's heroin epidemic believe that those who become dependent on prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times as likely to become addicted to heroin, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Campanello said he believes the solution lies not only with those involved in the drug trade but also — and perhaps more importantly — with those who manufacture the drugs.

“Our argument was you don’t cut off the head of the snake,” Campanello said at the time. “You cut off its food chain.”

Campanello said last week that the department has helped nearly 200 people seek treatment in the past three months.

"Now we've reached providers, insurance, and pharma is starting to come on board," he wrote in the Sept. 18 post.

Campanello also directed a message to doctors who, he said, "blatantly overprescribe," according to

"If law enforcement can step up and say, 'We're sorry ... we should have done this years ago,' then so should everyone else," he wrote. "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."

A spokeswoman with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade group representing U.S. pharmaceutical companies, told The Washington Post in a statement that manufacturers are aware that prescription drug abuse is "a public health crisis."

"We are also dedicated to supporting a range of policy approaches, including strengthening regulations aimed at addressing 'pill mills’ and expanding and improving awareness, education and training related to prescription drug abuse and the appropriate use and prescribing of medicines," Priscilla VanderVeer wrote in a statement.

VanderVeer would not, however, comment on the police chief's approach.

But one civil liberties attorney believes the department may have taken it too far.

“The police have a lot of nerve trying to target private citizens to do things the police should do,” Cambridge lawyer Harvey Silverglate told the Boston Herald after Campanello urged people to contact the pharma CEOs. “It’s actually worse than just being in bad taste.”

Gloucester Police spokesman John Guilfoil agreed that the police chief has nerve — though, others may call it grit.

“He certainly does have a lot of nerve," he told the newspaper. "His nerve is creating the Angel program in the first place."

“He’s simply casting a wide net on a large and affluent industry.”