U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis is joining the fight against the nationwide opioid epidemic, with help from Bloomington-Normal police.
Davis announced the new legislation aimed to help stop opioid abuse Friday afternoon during a visit to Normal City Hall. The Opioid Prescription Verification Act (H.R. 5219) would help law enforcement slow the movement of opioids into the illegal market by requiring pharmacists to check the ID of the person picking up an opioid prescription. Pharmacists would also have to enter the person’s information into the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.
“Why don’t we ask for identification for people picking up dangerous opioid prescriptions? We ought to be able to have a law,” said Davis, a Taylorville Republican. “Law enforcement ought to know. Pharmacists ought to know who they’re delivering those prescriptions to. And frankly, I think it’s a good deterrent to stop those who don’t want to show their IDs, if they’re a criminal.”
The bill is a result of a meeting organized by Normal Town Council member Jeff Fritzen between Davis and the Normal Police Department. Officers described McLean County’s opioid problem. They came to Davis with the idea to require ID after pharmacy shoppers were able to pick up more than 300 opioid pills at a couple of Walgreens in Bloomington-Normal last summer.
“What happened after that was a conversation with the pharmacists about what we could do to help them inform us of problems like this,” Normal Police Sgt. Adam Kapchinske said.
Kapchinske said in this particular case, the people picking up the prescriptions would have gone on the registry and would have been easier to track down. He added that the identification requirement and registry seemed like common sense after that.
“If I want to get a glass of wine, I need an ID. Buy a pack of cigarettes or get some Sudafed, I need an ID,” Kapchinske said. “It seemed like common sense that if you’re going to pick up a controlled substance that’s extremely harmful if used incorrectly, you should have to show an ID.”
Davis said although this is a good first step, the opioid problem in the United States is too complicated to solve with one piece of legislation.
“Solving the addiction problem and the opioid crisis in this country is not going to be done by somebody showing their ID at a pharmacy,” Davis said. “But it’s one more step that we ought to take. This is one more opportunity to keep 300 pills off the street and stop the next possible addict from becoming addicted to opioids, because tragically, we’ve seen the results of that.”
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control this week found the opioid crisis is worsening in the Midwest. McLean County saw a 70 percent increase from 2016 in hospitalizations due to opioid overdoses, while Illinois saw a 66 percent increase in the same time frame.
“Opioids know no socioeconomic boundaries,” Davis said. “It hits everyone everywhere, and today is one of those first steps at trying to address and discourage the opioid epidemic, and it started right here in McLean County.”
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