ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. (KMOV.com) – The abuse of prescription pain killers has led to what some call a heroin epidemic St. Clair County physicians are urged to join a program that has been in place for years. The program is a prescription drug monitoring system that hopes to curb Illinois’ problem.
Chad Sabora is the co-founder of The Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery. Sabora is a former heroin addict who knows first-hand that pain narcotics can lead to heroin addiction.
“You get hooked on them just like I did. 85 percent of all heroin addicts out there started out by not necessarily abusing, but it started with one prescription of Vicodin,” said Sabora.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and The Medical Society President Dr. Steve Morton sent a letter to doctors, urging them to use an online monitoring system called The Prescription Monitoring Program. Dr. Morton said most doctors are not aware of its existance.
Steve Clement, owner of Copper Bend Pharmacy has been practicing pharmacy for 40 years.
“I’d say in the last two to three years it’s doubled with the attempts of people trying to get prescriptions illegally,” said Clement.
Clement said the program allows him to check to see if a customer is trying to get multiple prescriptions filled for the same pain medication at multiple pharmacies. He then has the option to call the doctor who wrote the prescription, refer the customer to counseling, or refuse to fill the prescription.
“By getting the word out, the doctors are able to partake in their patients’ care, trying to get them clean and sober,” said Clement.
Missouri does not have a program like this, but Sabora has been pushing for one.
“One of the best ways for prevention is to limit access to pain medications,” said Sabora. “It’s a fight we need to fight.
Nearly every state surrounding Illinois has a prescription monitoring program, and Illinois pharmacists have access to those databases to check whether customers are filling prescriptions out-of-state as well.