Illinois, a state wracked by prescription drug abuse, will become the first state in the nation to test locking devices on some powerful prescription painkillers. The move is an attempt to make it more difficult for people to abuse the drugs.
The locking devices will be similar combination bicycle locks. Under the one-year pilot project, participating pharmacies will lock bottles of painkillers that contain hydrocodone, which is marketed as Vicodin or Norco.
The measure was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner this week and will take effect in 2016.
"Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications," said state Sen. Iris Martinez, one of the sponsors of the bill. "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."
Former addict, Nick Gore, addressed lawmakers earlier in the year and called the measure important in preventing abuse.
"I'm pretty hopeful today for the youth who may not get mixed up in this awful disease," Gore said. "It's a bold move made by Illinois to set the tone for the rest of the country to follow."
Yet while the program seems well intentioned it remains to be seen if it will have a measurable impact on the scourge of addiction. Most addicts do not steal one pill at a time, instead either stealing whole bottles or more commonly obtaining prescriptions for the powerful drugs. Many drugs are often purchased from street dealers, making the move to secure individual pill pots well intentioned but perhaps more headline grabbing than truly helpful.