Illinois lawmakers have made it clear that they are focused on preventing the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in their state. House Bill 3219 set a benchmark for legislation aimed at reducing addiction by requiring combination locking caps be placed on all opioid pharmaceutical prescription bottles. The new law holds hope for prescription drug abuse prevention.
In January 2016, the first-of-its-kind pilot program took effect. Is it working?
“Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications,” said State Senator and bill sponsor 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.”
In the month since its launch, HB3219 has dispensed the locking caps to ten pharmacies throughout Illinois. The caps are currently dispensed by the pharmacies to all Hydrocodone-containing prescriptions.
Under the new law, pharmacies can choose to dispense pills in a bottle capped with an alphanumeric combination that allows only the person with the prescription — or the code — access to the medicine.
The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation has been tasked with implementing the program, which is rolling out slowly due to some state budget issues. As the program continues to be implemented throughout the state, analysts will be able to measure the program’s effectiveness and report back to the legislature.
While it’s still too early to measure the success of HB3219, the law is already having a positive impact. Other officials are looking into implementing similar programs, looking to dispense caps at venues such as county hospitals. Lawmakers in various states are implementing their own bills aimed at reducing prescription addiction through measures such as expanded prescription medicine disposal programs, as well.
Will HB3219 Work?
What lawmakers hope to accomplish with HB3219 is to reduce the amount of prescription opioids that are misused in Illinois. By making it harder for prescription painkillers to be accessed from the medicine cabinets throughout the state, it is possible to reduce the amount of prescription drug misuse that can lead to addiction.
How big is the problem of prescription drug addiction in America?
- Prescription drug overdose deaths have tripled in the past 25 years.
- Prescription painkillers are responsible for 75% of drug overdoses.
- 1 out of every 4 high school students has misused a prescription drug.
- The #1 reason teens misuse a prescription drug is that it’s so easy to access.
Adding an extra layer of security to prescription opioid painkillers makes it that much harder to access drugs that can be highly addictive.
While a locking bottle cap may not stop an addict from getting their next fix, it can make a difference to a teen who is tempted to experiment with a prescription bottle found in the medicine cabinet of their home. Already, the locking bottle caps are garnering positive feedback from people who are using them to safeguard prescription medications in the home.
“I think this is a great idea,” says one mother. “Five years ago I got a prescription for Xanax and I noticed some of the pills were gone, then I found out my son gave some to his friends.” She now recommends the locking caps to help prevent prescription misuse in the home.
“This is the best thing for everyone. Sometimes you have a prescription for strong medicine, and this gives you peace of mind.”
As the problem of prescription drug addiction continues to ravage America, all eyes will be on Illinois to watch the effectiveness of this inspiring new program.