A bipartisan assembly of legislature’s Public Health Committee members issued a call for a cap on the limit of prescription opioids to a seven-day supply.
State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113) and Ben McGorty (R-122) joined that call, saying that setting a limit on prescriptions is an essential step in combating the state’s increasing opioid addiction crisis. The committee is advancing SB 352, “An Act Concerning Prescriptions for and the Dispensing of Opioid Antagonists,” and Opioid Drugs to accomplish that.
Perillo and McGorty teamed up with community leaders, legislators, state and local officials and public health professionals to hold an opioid addiction forum on March 3 to discuss possible solutions to the crisis as well as hear how it has affected residents.
The forum, held at Scinto Auditorium in Shelton, was attended by over 200 people, attesting to the significance of the crisis, and the tender nerve it touches in the region.
“Patients that are prescribed opioids very often don’t use the full supply they are prescribed,” said Rep. Perillo, a member of the Public Health Committee. “This leaves the door open for the remaining portion to be sold or given away. It also increases the likelihood that the patient will take too many pills and, as a result, become dependent. Limiting the opioid prescriptions to seven day supplies will reduce the availability of any extra unused pills. A prescribing physician can always prescribe more if, in his professional medical opinion, the patient’s condition is chronic.”
According to the Center for Disease Control’s website 70% of heroin addicts began their addiction with the abuse of prescription opioids. The list of prescription drugs that people commonly get addicted to are painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin. People who suffer from chronic pain also make up a percentage of those addicted to opiates.
Rep. McGorty agreed that limiting the number of extra or unused pills could make a substantial dent in the crisis.
“The problem of opioid abuse does not have one solution, but limiting the number of unused opioid painkillers that are available for abuse such as this proposal is one of many things we can do to in that effort.”
Shelton Police have created a prescription drug drop-off, exclusively for pills, to act as a resource for those who want to safely get rid of unused prescriptions. They have a large green box set up in their lobby that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“This bill will limit the availability of prescription opioids and hopefully reduce dependency,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly.
Current law requires that opioids prescribed by physicians for patients be capped at thirty-day supplies. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released recommendations last week concerning the prescription of opioid painkillers, calling on doctors to use non-opioids when possible, and to limit opioid prescriptions they do issue to seven-day supplies.
The Shelton legislators said that recent data from the Office of the chief Medical Examiner has established that there is a substantial increase in the number of overdose deaths related to opioids and heroin in Connecticut. From 2014-2015, heroin deaths have increased 27%.
The bill remains before the Public Health Committee and awaits action there. This session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns on May 4.