New program places locks on pain pill bottles

Prescription pain killers are responsible for three out of every four prescription drug overdoses. A Local 6 state is trying to bring that number down by placing locks on pill bottles.

For pharmacist Ben Calcaterra, vice president of the Illinois Pharmacist Association, a locking bottle top is simply the latest tool in the fight against prescription pain pill abuse.

"This new law is meant to prevent family members or visitors to a family’s home from skimming a few tablets off the top of the bottle,” said Calcaterra.

A first-of-its-kind pilot program will place a four digit combination lock on top of the bottle, which can be reused on future refills.

"We would be responsible to teach the patient how to set that combination on their own at home so we will not have the combinations. Nobody will have the combinations except for the patient," said Calcaterra.

Logan Primary Pharmacy plans to participate in the program, but Calcaterra see’s shortfalls in the program.

"It’s only for certain prescriptions: those containing hydrocodone,” said Calcaterra. “It’s also for situations where the doctor has a conversation with their patient, and they believe there is a situation at home that this will help. The bottle itself —if somebody is really anxious to get those pills, all they have to do is take the bottle and cut off the bottom." 

The state has provided funding for 50,000 locking lids. But once the pilot program is over, there is still debate over who will cover the cost if the program moves forward.

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