Illinois lawmakers are fighting prescription painkiller abuse by making it more difficult for addicts to obtain opioids, often considered a “pathway” to heroin.
Legislation was passed Thursday to launch a pilot program in which participating pharmacies will place numerical locking devices on prescriptions with hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco. Rebates will also be available to consumers who purchase the specially-designed vials.
“Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications,” said State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago). “This legislation will help prevent individuals who haven’t obtained a written prescription from using hydrocodone, a dangerous drug when used without a doctor’s supervision.”
Illinois becomes the first state in the country to offer the incentive to pharmacies, aimed at locking-out addicts from pain pills.
“We’re going to be watching this very closely to see if it curbs the abuse of prescription painkillers here in Illinois, and I know a lot of other states around the country are going to be looking to see if this is an effective way to prevent the distribution of these deadly drugs,” said Debbie Hersman of the National Safety Council.
Nick Gore is a former pain pill addict who testified in Springfield about the importance of the device. He said the state’s new pilot program is a huge first step in preventing addiction.
“I’m pretty hopeful today for the youth who may not get mixed up in this awful disease,” Gore said. “It’s a bold move made by Illinois to set the tone for the rest of the country to follow.”
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will be charged with implementing the state-funded pilot program.