Illinois will be first state to lock painkiller pill bottles

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 29, 2015 at 12:02 p.m.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois will be the first state in the country to test out a pilot program that will put locking devices on some prescription painkillers to make it harder for people to abuse the drugs.

The numerical locking devices will be similar to those used on gym lockers. Under the one-year program, participating pharmacies will place the locks on bottles of painkillers that contain hydrocodone, which is also known as Vicodin or Norco.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the measure into law this week. It takes effect in 2016.

"Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications," said state Sen. Iris Martinez, a Chicago Democrat who was one of the sponsors of the bill. "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."

A former addict, Nick Gore, addressed lawmakers in Springfield earlier this year in support of the locking devices. He calls Illinois' measure an important first step in preventing abuse.

"I'm pretty hopeful today for the youth who may not get mixed up in this awful disease," Gore told Chicago's NBC 5 (WMAQ-TV). "It's a bold move made by Illinois to set the tone for the rest of the country to follow."

The program will be run by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and participating pharmacies.

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