Measures dealing with opioid and fentanyl in Illinois among new laws Jan. 1



(The Center Square) – As Illinois and the rest of the country continue to deal with an opioid and fentanyl crisis, several new state laws are set to go on the books on Jan.1 to address the problems.

One new Illinois law will allow pharmacists and other health care professionals to distribute fentanyl testing strips in an effort to reduce opioid overdoses.

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, said the strips could potentially be a life saver.

“We look at fentanyl and the damage it is doing not only to our state but our nation, and the expediency with which we need to make sure the tools are available so we can solve the problem on the front end before we have deaths on the back end,” said Keicher earlier this year.

Another law requires schools to keep opioid overdose reversal agents on campus, and another requires fentanyl education in schools.

“Educating people of all ages on the dangers of potential overdose is an effective way to help save lives and combat overdoses long term,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Laura Ellman, D-Naperville.

The organization Families Against Fentanyl analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found that Illinois is ranked sixth in the country for the most fentanyl deaths from April 2022 through April of this year.

Families Against Fentanyl spokesperson Moira Muntz said nearly 3,000 Illinois families lost loved ones to fentanyl poisonings.

“Just devastated and heartbroken by the loss of their loved ones and it’s happening far too often to far too many families so our goal is to raise awareness and to put pressure on lawmakers in Washington to take further action,” Muntz told The Center Square.

A measure that requires for-profit music venues that have an occupancy of 1,000 or more to have opioid overdose antidotes and trained staff on hand goes into effect in June 2024.

Winnebago County had the highest rates of opioid and other drug overdose deaths in Illinois last year. According to data analyzed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the drug overdose death rate was 53.2 per 100,000 people in Winnebago County in 2022. Vermillion (52.5), Kankakee (44.3), Cook (43.8) and Peoria (43.2) counties round out the top five.

State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, said that is why policymakers needed to take action.

“As lawmakers, it is our job to keep the public safe and to take action when communities are calling for our help,” said McCombie.

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