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Drug abuse, Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney, Substance Abuse, CDCAccording to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, “prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the Nation.” On the state level, Illinois recognizes the seriousness of the situation as well, having already implemented a statewide Prescription Monitoring Program to help doctors and pharmacies identify potential issues quickly. In addition to the obvious dangers of abusing prescription drugs, doctors are also acutely concerned that many who abuse prescription medication will eventually turn to heroin, cocaine, or other illegal substances.

The Illinois State Medical Society addressed this concern recently to the Illinois House Task Force on the Heroin Crisis, a bipartisan group formed to look for solutions to a growing problem. Recognizing the usefulness of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), the doctors’ group presented a 30 page proposal to the task force that, in essence, would strengthen the program and more easily identify “doctor shopping” and other drug-seeking behavior.

Authorized by Illinois state law, the PMP tracks and monitors prescription drugs on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedules II, III, IV, and V. The most commonly abused medications include morphine, oxycodone, codeine, and other painkillers, but the program’s scope includes all substances classified to those lists by the DEA. In the PMP’s current form, a patient is flagged by the system if he or she visits six or more prescribers or six or more pharmacies in a 30 day period. The proposed change would cause a patient to be flagged if he or she were to visit three or more prescribers or four or more pharmacies within 30 days.

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