Sen. Mark Kirk on Wednesday announced a new bill aimed at cracking down on "pill mill" operators -- doctors, clinics, and pharmacies that prescribe and/or dispense prescription narcotics irresponsibly, inappropriately, or for non-medical reasons.
The bill would double a convicted operator’s prison term from 10 to 20 years, and triple their fines from $1 million to $3 million.
Kirk made the announcement in the midst of Red Ribbon Week, the oldest drug prevention program nationwide.
Prescription drug abuse has led to more fatalities than car accidents, which is something that David and Gail Katz are all too familiar with.
Four years ago, their son, Daniel, died from an oxycontin overdose at the age of 24.
"It’s hard to believe that this doctor, who was accountable for seven deaths including my son’s death, prescribed 20,000 doses of oxycontin in a short period of time," said David Katz.
The doctor in their son’s case lost his medical license, but received only probation.
"I will just say that doctors are people and some of them can go over to the dark side," Kirk said.
Arlington Heights mayor Arlene Mulder supports Kirk’s crackdown.
"It’s not just drug dealers in bad neighborhoods where young people are getting drugs, but it’s often in grandma’s medicine cabinet," Mulder said.
To honor their son, the Katz family formed the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation to promote education -- especially with young people.
"Nobody knows who’s going to be the addict," said Gail Katz. "It’s not necessarily someone from one area and not another area. It can affect anybody and nobody is immune to it."
Other parts of the legislation include taking seized assets and using them to fund drug treatment and better data bases to track known drug dealers.
This Saturday is National Take Back Day, a day on which you can clean out medicine cabinets and drop off old prescriptions at police stations to have them safely discarded.
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