Prescription drug abuse is on the rise and a new federal bill aims to stop it. U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) has introduced legislation that would double the prison sentence for what he calls “pill mill” operators – doctors, clinics and pharmacies that prescribe or dispense narcotics irresponsibly. The bill would also triple the fines for illegal distribution of a controlled substance for drug dealers caught selling prescription medication.
Today, 2½ times more Americans abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined, according to the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation. A recent report showed that drug fatalities among young people have surpassed motor vehicle deaths, largely due to prescription drug overdoses. The legislation would also reclassify hydrocodone combination drugs like Vicodin. David and Gail Katz of Highland Park lost their son Daniel in 2007 to a Oxycontin overdose. Daniel obtained the drug from a patient of a doctor who was inappropriately prescribing controlled substances. They brought the issue to Kirk’s attention and the senator moved forward with crafting legislation. Under the bill, prison sentences would go from 10 to 20 years and fines would jump from $1 million to $3 million. Assets collected would be used for drug treatment programs and state drug monitoring databases.