By: Philip R. Frankfort

As a result of legislation signed by Governor Rauner on December 13, 2017 (P.A. 100-0564) all Illinois prescribers must now register with the Prescription Monitoring Program (“PMP”) and in certain circumstances interact with the PMP’s database. Specifically, the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (“Act”) has been amended to add a new section 314.5 (c-5), which provide that as of January 1, 2018:

  • “Each prescriber possessing an Illinois controlled substances license shall register with the [PMP].”

  • “Each prescriber or his or her designee shall also document an attempt to access patient information” in the PMP “to assess patient access to controlled substances when providing an initial prescription for Schedule II narcotics such as opiods.”

  • The requirement to access the PMP database does not apply to “prescriptions for oncology treatment or palliative care, or a 7-day or less supply provided by a hospital emergency department when treating an acute, traumatic medical condition.”

The new legislation also requires the Department of Human Services to issue regulations before the end of 2018, requiring “all Electronic Health Records Systems to interface with the [PMP] application program on or before January 1, 2021” as well as regulations concerning the appointment of a designee by a registered prescriber or pharmacist.

This legislation is viewed by the medical profession as a necessary, but burdensome, reality in the context of the national opiod addiction and overdose crisis. However, many states have taken additional steps or are working on legislation that goes further to control or limit the prescribing of opiods. For example, the Act does not require prescribers to do anything more than access the PMP before the prescriber’s first prescription of a Schedule II narcotic. It does not change the ability of an Illinois prescriber to issue up to a 90-day supply (3 sequential 30-day supplies) of a Schedule II narcotic; and it does not require the prescriber to communicate with the patient or anyone else about any information observed when the PMP has been accessed. The hope, of course, is that prescribers will self-regulate in light of the growing consensus that the risk of opiod addiction increases extremely quickly if a patient is given even a 10-day supply.