State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113) and Ben McGorty (R-122) voted in favor of bipartisan legislation this afternoon aimed at combating the state’s growing opioid epidemic. The measure was the result of a combination of proposals supported by the legislators who joined local and state leaders in hosting an opioid addiction forum in Shelton on March 3.
“This a pretty sensible start to developing policy that begins to roll back many of the things that create opportunities for opioid abuse,” said Rep. Perillo.
“This bill is hardly a cure-all, but it takes some very important and positive steps toward the goal of stemming the tide of addiction. Our opioid forums held in several towns were absolutely indispensable in crafting this legislation,”said Rep. McGorty.
The legislation that was approved includes:
· Closing a gap in current liability language related to a licensed health care professional who administers an opioid antagonist
· Prohibiting commercial health carriers from requiring prior authorization for coverage of naloxone
· Requiring the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council’s state plan to include, by January 1, 2017, a goal of reducing the number of opioid-induced deaths in the state
Limiting the prescription of opioid drugs by:
· Prohibiting, for adult patients, an initial prescription of opioid drugs for longer than seven days
· Prohibiting, for minor patients, any prescriptions of opioid drugs for longer than seven days and requiring the prescriber to discuss the risks associated with the drug with the patient and, if present, the custodial parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of the patient
· Allowing, for both adult and minor patients, a prescriber to give more than a seven-day supply of opioid drugs if, in the prescriber’s professional medical judgment, the acute or chronic pain condition requires it and requires the prescriber to note such condition in the medical record
· Making several changes to the state’s electronic prescription monitoring program to help facilitate prescriber and pharmacist compliance
The 7-day cap on painkillers applies to first-time adult prescriptions and all prescriptions for minors, with exceptions for certain medical conditions. The bill requires that local emergency medical services are equipped with and trained in the use of Narcan. It also allows doctors to write prescriptions for the overdose reversal drug without first getting permission from a patient’s health insurer.
According to data made available by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, there has been a significant increase in the rise of overdoses related to opioids and heroin in Connecticut. From 2014 to 2015, heroin deaths increased by 27% in Connecticut and of the 723 people who died of an overdose in 2015, 415 were heroin related and another 107 were related to fentanyl, a powerful opiate that drug dealers have been lacing heroin with to make it more potent.
Experts point to the over-prescribing of opioids in 2012, noting 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids – enough to give every adult in the U.S. their own bottle of pills – as one of the leading causes of our current crisis.
The bill, HB 5053, an act that increases access to overdose reversal drugs, passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 144 to 0, and now heads to the State Senate for action there. This session of the Connecticut General Assembly concludes at midnight, May 4.