Kupchick & Devlin welcome passage of landmark opioid legislation

State Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) & Laura Devlin (R-134) hailed milestone legislation to help address the state’s growing opioid crisis which passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives Monday, April 25.

HB 5053, An Act Increasing Access to Overdose Reversal Drugs, passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 144-0 and now moves to the State Senate for final legislative approval.

The Fairfield representatives co-sponsored legislative forums at Sacred Heart University in January and at Pequot Library in an effort to determine what the state could do through legislation to combat opiate addiction crisis in Connecticut.

At the Public Health public hearing in March, Rep. Kupchick gave passionate testimony pleading with members of the committee to act and treat this issue as a ‘State of Emergency’.

Rep. Kupchick said, “Families of addicts need support with help understanding the problem and learning how to help their loved ones. People, young and older find themselves caught up in the disease of addiction with few resources available to help them. I understand this problem didn’t happen overnight, and won’t be solved quickly, but I can’t stress enough how important it is we do everything we can to stop this crisis, people are dying.”

“Hearing stories from local groups, including the advocates of Community Addiction and Recovery Education and Support (CARES), about the increasing struggles with opiate addiction and the importance of all of us working together to stop this spreading epidemic affected me greatly. I view this legislation as the beginning and it is my hope that by working together we can begin to find positive solutions to this terrible scourge,” said Rep. Devlin.

The legislation that was approved today has several provisions that will build on the state’s current actions to combat the opioid epidemic, including:

  • Requiring municipalities to update their existing emergency medical services plans to ensure that the emergency responder likely to the first person on the scene of an emergency call is equipped with and prepared to administer the overdose reversal drug naloxone and has been appropriately trained to do so
  • 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 judgement, 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 the 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 of those were heroine related and another 107 were related to fentanyl, a powerful opiate that drug dealers have been lacing heroine with to make it more potent.

Experts point to the over-prescribing of opioids in 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, enough to give every adult their own bottle of pills – as one of the leading causes of our current crisis.

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