Like much of the United States, Illinois is currently fighting a massive battle against the over-prescription and abuse of opioids. In an attempt to combat the state’s opioid crisis, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a new piece of legislation last Wednesday that would target fraudulent drug prescriptions. The law would require licensed prescribers to check a database to see whether patients have already been prescribed certain controlled substances.
Targeting opioid abuse
The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1 and makes it harder for patients to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for opioids or other drugs. After that date, any physician who has an Illinois Controlled Substance License is required to register for the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program. This program serves as a database that is monitored by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The database contains information about a patient’s history of prescriptions for controlled substances. A physician can check the database when a patient requests a controlled substance to see whether they have made multiple requests from different doctors. Patients who abuse opioids sometimes attempt to doctor-shop, or see several doctors in an attempt to get as many prescription drugs as possible. This is considered prescription fraud, and may indicate a serious addiction. The new law also discourages doctors from overprescribing opioids and other controlled substances to their clients. Over-prescription has been a major contributing factor to the state’s widespread crisis.
The new law could have serious consequences not only for opioid users, but their doctors. Any physician or other prescriber who does not comply with the law could face disciplinary action from the state. Patients who are charged with prescription fraud or possession of a controlled substance may face fines, community service, mandatory substance abuse education programs or prison time. Any doctor, medical professional or patient who is facing drug-related charges may wish to contact an attorney who can offer them legal counsel regarding Illinois drug laws.