Bill Requiring ID To Get Opioid Prescriptions Introduced In Illinois

By Paul Gaita 03/16/18

The proposed bill would place restrictions similar to ID requirements imposed on sales of Sudafed.

hand holding an id card

With recent statistics showing a 70% increase in opioid-related overdoses in the midwestern United States, a Republican congressman has sought to fight back by introducing a new bill, HR 5219, that would require individuals to present a valid ID before picking up prescription opioids from a pharmacy.

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) announced the proposed legislation at a press conference in Normal, Illinois on March 9, where he was joined by members of local law enforcement and government, as well as health care officials. As Davis noted at the conference, the bill is intended to halt the practice of "pharmacy shopping," and to help police track down drug dealers who may be filling out prescriptions written for others.

According to Davis, the bill was prompted by a meeting with the Normal Police Department in 2017, where he was informed about individuals in Chicago who were able to purchase more than 300 opioid pills from Walgreens locations in the Bloomington-Normal area.

Currently, the state of Illinois requires pharmacies to enter information about the person for whom the prescription is intended into its Prescription Monitoring Program database, but does not ask for information about the person picking up the prescription.

This has resulted in instances of "pharmacy shopping" like in the Bloomington case, in which three individuals attempted to fill fraudulent prescriptions at a number of pharmacies until employees became suspicious and alerted the police.

HR 5219 would place restrictions similar to ID requirements imposed on sales of Sudafed by the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. Individuals would be required to present an ID before picking up their prescriptions; pharmacists would then enter the information into a database log that police would be able to access in order to track those abusing the system.

Davis described the bill's requirements as "common sense." 

"If you're picking up an opioid prescription, which we know is a highly addictive drug that is becoming a huge problem in our country, you should have to show an ID," he said at the press conference.

The proposed measure has drawn a positive response from some law enforcement officials, including Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner, who said, "This afternoon's announcement is a good example of local and federal collaboration at the legislative level to come up with commonsense solutions to impact [the opioid] problem."

Jill Crum, director of behavioral health at HSHS St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur, Illinois, told the Herald & Review that the legislation can be an important part of a wider plan to assist those impacted by the opioid epidemic, including expanded distribution of treatment options for those in need.

But Crum also noted that the intent of the bill is crucial unto itself. "We must do everything we can to keep opioids in the hands of those who they are prescribed to," she said.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.