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Richard Del Rio, Ph.D


Richard Del Rio is a historian with research interests in the American drug industry, its transformation over time and the societal consequences those changes hold. He currently teaches in the PharmD and Pyschoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation programs.

Dr. Del Rio is completing a manuscript that connects the history of pricing schemes for proprietary medicines with the political development of criminal justice policy in Chicago during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Dr. Del Rio’s investigations into rebate agreements between drug retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers contributes to the field by historicizing the violence, incarceration and racially disparate outcomes that mar the American dual market system for drugs. The aim of this work is to contribute historical awareness to discussions about medicine pricing and access by showing how the long history of professionalization in pharmacy contributed to the unintended consequences harm-reduction policy seeks to mitigate in the United States.

Dr. Del Rio earned his doctorate in history from the University of Chicago’s Social Science Division in 2018.

General Academic Interests: Pharmaceutical history. Social history of the United States since the Civil War Period. African American history. Latino history. Business history, the history of Healthcare and Historical sociology.

 Select Publications:

“The Drug War Dialectic in Early Twentieth Century Chicago” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, Vol. 34 No. 2 (Fall 2020)

Dr. Del Rio is interested learning about/from student projects interested in the history of drugs within any academic discipline, any geographic region and ranging in temporal scope from the colonial period to the present.

He is currently teaching the following courses:

PHM 401 "History of Pharmacy"

PHM 563 "Drug History - Dangerous Drugs Magic Bullets"

PHM 564 "Psychedelic Historiography: Sacred Plants, Science & Psychotherapy"