Will locks on Rx bottles curb opioid abuse?

September 3, 2015

The state of Illinois will launch a pilot program next year to try to answer that question.

The state of Illinois will launch a pilot program next year to try to answer that question.

In an effort to curb prescription drug abuse, Illinois will provide financial incentives to pharmacies to place locking devices on bottles of painkillers that contain hydrocodone. An alphanumeric combination lock on the bottles will only allow the person with the code to access the medicine.

See also: Pill mill crackdown has reduced opioid Rxs

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed a measure into law authorizing participating pharmacies to use the numerical locking devices beginning in 2016. However, the program is voluntary and pharmacies do not have to participate.

The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will oversee the program. Pharmacies that use the locking devices would be reimbursed an unspecified amount for the extra cost of the bottles. The reimbursements would come from the state.

However, doctors can request that the locking devices not be used for specific patients.

“Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications," state Sen. Iris Martinez, one of the sponsors of the bill, told the Associated Press. "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."

 

During testimony at the state legislature, one former addict called the pilot program an important first step.

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

Others, however, have called the locking devices a gimmick, and suggest the solution is cracking down on doctors writing excessive amounts of painkiller scripts.