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Gov inks Illinois law calling for locking devices on hydrocodone painkiller prescriptions


From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A first-of-its kind program in the U.S. to provide locking devices on painkiller prescriptions containing hydrocodone is now a reality in Illinois after legislation to launch the pilot program was signed into law today.

House Bill 3219, co-sponsored by State Reps. and former prosecutors Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, Robert Martwick, D-Chicago,  and Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, creates the statewide program aimed at saving lives by creating an extra layer of security on prescription drug bottles containing the painkiller hydrocodone, which is among the most abused drugs in the nation.

Hydrocodone is also known as Vicodin or Norco.

“I’d like to thank Gov. Rauner for his signature. Illinoisans will be safer as a result of this innovative legislation that will reduce the health crisis of opioid abuse,” Zalewski said.

The new law will launch a one-year pilot program regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in coordination with participating pharmacies across Illinois. The numerical locking devices – caps similar to those used on gym locks – would be placed on opioid pharmaceutical prescription bottles.

“This program is all about helping people who are caught in the stranglehold of painkiller abuse. If this program saves just one life, it’s worth it,” said Martwick.

Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Prescription painkillers cause three out of four prescription drug overdoses. A report compiled by the CDC released in December 2014, finds that deaths from drug poisoning linked to opioid analgesics (such as morphine, oxycodone, methadone and heroin) have jumped to 41,502 in 2012 from 16,849 back in 1999.

The new law takes affect on Jan. 1, 2016.

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