Top Illinois Drug Treatment Advocacy Group Praises Sen. Mark Kirk’s Push against “Pill Mills”

(Chicago, IL) — U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R.-Ill) today announced new legislation at a Chicago press conference to combat the nation’s fastest growing drug epidemic – prescription drug abuse.

“Prescription drug abuse is rising. Drug fatalities have surpassed motor vehicle deaths, largely due to prescription drug overdoses,” Kirk said. “This bipartisan legislation makes common-sense reforms to the Controlled Substances Act that will help save lives from prescription drug overdoses.”

According to Kirk’s office, 2 1/2 times more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined.

“’Pill mills’, or doctors, and pharmacies that either inappropriately prescribe or dispense prescription narcotics for non-medical reasons is a growing drug abuse problem in the U.S.,” said Illinois Alcoholism Drug and Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “I applaud Senator Kirk’s efforts to tackle this problem.”

Pill mills are pain clinics that dispense prescriptions, often without physical exams or medical record assessments. Pill mill doctors generally let patients choose their drugs, treat ailments only with pain medication and direct patients to “their” pharmacies.

Kirk has teamed up with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to introduce legislation, S. 1760, to help crack down on pill mill operators by doubling the prison sentence from 10 years to 20, and tripling the fines from $1 million to $3 million for illegal distribution of controlled substances.

The seized assets would be used to fund drug treatment programs and state drug-monitoring databases that collect information on prescription drugs prescribed and dispensed.  Illinois has a fully operational monitoring program that helps medical professionals ensure patients aren’t receiving prescriptions from multiple doctors.

“Given the punishing Illinois budget cuts imposed on our drug prevention and treatment providers, any additional money provided to these community agencies will be welcome,” said Howe.

Prescription drug abuse struck Illinois in June 2007.

Daniel Katz, an Illinois native, suffered from a fatal Oxycontin overdose at the age of 25. Katz obtained the narcotic from a patient of Dr. Gerald Kane who had been inappropriately prescribing controlled substances to multiple patients in Illinois. In addition to Katz, three of Kane’s patients also died from prescription drug abuse.

Kane pled guilty to reckless conduct for the deaths of these individuals, and was sentenced to probation.

The bill was unveiled during the 23rd annual National Red Ribbon Week, our nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program.

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