SPRINGFIELD — Advocates from law enforcement, drug prevention and the medical community hosted a press conference Tuesday highlighting the importance of legislation to increase access to opioids with abuse deterrent properties.
Overdose deaths have rapidly increased across Illinois, quadrupling in the past 15 years, with 1,705 deaths in 2014, a significant number of which were caused by prescription opioids.
As overdose deaths are increasing, prescription opioids with abuse-deterrent properties have been developed to curb the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs and help save lives. House Bill 2743 has been introduced by Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) to reduce the barriers for patients and doctors to access prescription opioids with abuse-deterrent properties.
Sheriff Wes Barr of Sangamon County is all too familiar with this epidemic and was on hand to speak about his experiences and support of this bill in order to provide law enforcement another tool.
“Since 2012, there have been 114 opiate-related deaths in Sangamon County and a slew of crime related to prescription opioids,” Barr said. “Before the reformulation of OxyContin in 2010 nationwide, the drug was demanded in 60 percent of pharmacy robberies, but following the reformulation, that figure dropped to 33 percent and the street price for the ADP version of OxyContin has dropped because of low demand.”
Because there is less appetite for the more difficult version of these prescription medications on the street, Barr endorses the use of ADPs to combat this crisis.
Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards spoke about the deaths resulting from prescription opioids firsthand. In 2014, there were 14 deaths from prescription opioids. Edwards said officials must take a proactive approach to this fight, saying that opioids with ADP “can help prevent misuse and abuse before a fatal overdose even occurs.” She said she does not want to see the continued rise in overdose deaths resulting from prescription painkillers and believes ADPs could help to make a difference.
Unfortunately, there are many stories of addicts who become addicted to prescription opioids across Illinois. Kevin Kaminski struggled with an addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers and experienced devastating effects. He and his family had to endure the hardship of many trips to the ER and several stints in rehab, never knowing if he would be able to overcome his addiction. Fortunately, Kevin overcame his struggle and is now in college with hopes to help others suffering with addiction by becoming a certified drug counselor. He said he endorses ADPs because they could prevent the same suffering his family had to go through. He said that “abuse-deterrent pills won’t solve the entire opioid abuse issue, but every single person who is deterred from abuse is an important victory.”
From the medical community, Dr. Michael Rock, the attending physician in Anesthesiology and Pain Management at Community First Medical Center in Chicago, spoke about ADPs from the pain management perspective.
“Abuse-deterrent opioids allow the patient to have the medications they need with a significantly reduced risk of abuse,” Rock said. He was also able to display how ADPs are more difficult to crush by doing a pill crush demonstration during the press conference.