040924CM0580SPRINGFIELD – A measure led by State Senator Laura Ellman to mitigate the opioid crisis by providing free fentanyl test strips advanced out of the Senate Wednesday.

“The opioid crisis in Illinois continues to be a source of concern for families, and the state is taking an important step to keeping our residents safe from fentanyl-laced substances,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “This life-saving resource should be accessible to everyone.”

Currently, non-medical persons are authorized to administer naloxone to someone experiencing an opioid overdose under the Drug Overdose Prevention Program established by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Previous legislation permits pharmacists and retailers to sell fentanyl test strips over-the-counter and county health departments are able to distribute test strips to the public for no fee. Additionally, pharmacists, physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants or their designee may distribute drug adulterant testing supplies to any person.

Under Senate Bill 3350, IDHS would establish or authorize programs to distribute fentanyl test strips to promote harm reduction efforts and prevent overdoses. Fentanyl test strips can be used to detect the presence of fentanyl in a variety of substances, as fentanyl can be easily disguised and difficult to see with the naked-eye.

“We have made significant progress in mitigating this crisis, but the surge of fentanyl overdoses has impacted that progress and victimized many people who are unaware they are exposed to deadly toxins,” said Ellman. “This measure removes one more factor associated with the rise in opioid-related deaths in our state and prevents fatal outcomes for unsuspecting people.”

The measure now heads to the House for further consideration.