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Two new Illinois laws aim to help fight opioid addiction

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a measure Friday that amends the Overdose Prevention and Harm Reduction Act and allows pharmacists and retail stores to sell fentanyl testing strips over the counter beginning Jan. 1.

“Fentanyl is a deadly drug that is taking far too many lives and as we continue to take steps to address the opioid epidemic affecting Illinois families, our priority with this legislation is to single out fentanyl,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, in March while introducing the measure.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FTS are small strips of paper that can detect the presence fentanyl in various drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin and drug forms like pills, powder and injectables. FTS provide people who use drugs with information about fentanyl in the illicit drug supply so they can take steps to reduce risk of overdose.

Another law requires schools to carry opioid antagonists on campus beginning next year.

Another school-related bill still awaits the governor’s signature. State Sen. Laura Ellman, D-Naperville, crafted legislation that requires information about the dangers of fentanyl in every Illinois school district’s curriculum.

Pritzker already signed into law 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. That law takes effect in June 2024.

“People go to a music festival or concert to enjoy themselves – one bad decision should not cost them their life,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago.

According to the CDC, over 150 people die every day nationwide from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

According to the National Emergency Medical Services Information System, Illinois ranks sixth nationally in nonfatal opioid overdoses.

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