HB 1, as amended by HA 1, contains language to push back against soaring overdose rates of heroin and prescription opiates being seen by law enforcement and medical professionals. Representative John Anthony is a lead co-sponsor of the bipartisan measure. A key element of the bill is a series of measures intended to make it more difficult for patients to present large prescriptions of opiate painkillers to a pharmacy. Current research indicates that vials of prescription opiates, after being dispensed in good faith by a pharmacy, are sometimes resold on the street to addicts. One way to discourage this conduct is to further scrutinize the medical care granted to patients, to move towards objective pain assessments, divert eligible patients into other pain-management pathways, and to dispense only a few pills at a time to patients with treatment-resistant pain conditions.
House Bill 1 contains measures to authorize pharmacists to dispense an opioid antidote and appropriate administration device without a prescription. Several states, such as Minnesota and Vermont, have distributed injector kits of anti-overdose opioid antagonists, such as Naloxone, and fatality rates from opioid overdoses have dropped in these states. Should HB 1 become law and the requisite kits purchased, advocates say lives could be saved in Illinois. The amendment was filed on Monday, March 2 and assigned to the House Special Committee on Substance Abuse. Anthony and his colleagues have led hearings in which emergency room health care providers, other health care providers, law enforcement professionals, public health experts, and survivors of drug-overdose tragedies have called upon the State to take further action against the scourge of opiate addictions and opiate overdoses in Illinois. A hearing has been set on the bill to be held on Tuesday, March 10 with an expectation that negotiations will continue in the coming weeks on a final package of anti-opiate provisions.