Area legislators support Malloy’s proposals to curb opioid addiction

Building on the milestone opioid addiction legislation passed last year, State Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132), Laura Devlin (R-134) and David Rutigliano (R-123) today strongly supported Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s package of legislative reforms focusing on efforts to reduce the potential for people to become addicted to opioid medications that could cause a life-threatening overdose.

Rep. Kupchick said, “The statistics are alarming and I’m encouraged by the Governors commitment to the opiate crisis. We want people who need pain relief to have access, while ensuring there isn’t abuse because of the highly addictive nature of opiate drugs. I’m also hopeful my proposal for expanded insurance coverage for long term treatment for addiction will move forward.”

Rep. Devlin said, “These proposals are bi-partisan solutions to a growing epidemic. Just look at the numbers and you can see how the opioid-related deaths in Connecticut have tripled in the last five years.”

“The governor and his team have been a willing partner in and on the right side when it comes to opioid epidemic issues, I agree with the governor’s proposals. Last year’s opioid legislation was just the first step to curbing opioid abuses in Connecticut but we should always work to improve upon what we have done. By safeguarding medications, like prescription painkillers, we are making sure the addictive drugs stay out of the wrong hands and also help to prevent a future addiction,” said Rep. Rutigliano.

According to the Office of the State Medical Examiner, opioid-related overdose deaths skyrocketed in Connecticut with the total number at 917 for 2016. It’s at least the fifth year in a row that has seen a large increase in opioid deaths in the state; 2015 had 729 deaths and 2012 saw 357.

This year, the Governor is proposing the following reforms:

  • Requiring Electronic Prescriptions: Currently, prescribers can choose whether to prescribe opioid medication electronically or on paper. The Governor is proposing to require all of these prescriptions be made electronically in order to reduce the potential for fraud and create a system of trackable data.
  • Facilitating in the Destruction of Unused Medication: Under current law, only the person prescribed medication or their legal caregivers can dispose of unused medication, including after the patient has died. The Governor is proposing to expand this ability to home health care agency registered nurses. This will ensure that unused medication is not sitting in medicine cabinets, and fits well with the “Mind Your Meds” movement promoted by state agencies, which encourages the proper destruction of unused medications through means such as a drop box program.
  • Allowing Patients to Refuse Opioids through a Directive: The Governor is proposing to allow patients to include in their personal medical files a form indicating that they do not want to be prescribed or receive opioid medication.
  • Expand the Requirement to Provide Information about the Risk of Addiction to Adults: Currently, prescribers are required to share information on the risk of addiction when prescribing opioids to minors. The Governor is proposing to expand that requirement to include adults in order to increase the communication between prescribers and patients, ensuring that all patients have the information they need when taking potentially addictive medications.
  • Encourage Data Sharing Among State Agencies: The Governor is proposing to ease statutory restrictions on data sharing between state agencies. This concept was widely discussed in both the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council’s final report and Yale’s report that the Governor commissioned. Increased data sharing across state agencies would better help the state track trends, determine the effectiveness of the current allocation of resources, and create a more comprehensive system for tracking this epidemic.

According to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, nearly half of all opioid-related deaths in our country involve prescription painkillers.

Since 2011 several policy changes have been enacted to combat the opioid epidemic. These include:

  • the 2011 adoption of Good Samaritan laws protecting individuals from prosecution for minor drug crimes who seek medical attention for a friend experiencing an overdose (Public Act 11-210);
  • the 2012 adoption of third party prescriber laws allowing the prescription of naloxone to an individual who is not the direct user of the drug (Public Act 12-159);
  • the 2014 expansion of Good Samaritan protections for any person who, in good faith, administers naloxone to save a life. Previously, only licensed health care practitioners were allowed to administer the medication without being civilly or criminally liable for the action. Following the law’s adoption, all Connecticut State Police Troopers completed a training program providing them with the skills to administer the medication. (Public Act 14-61);
  • the 2015 adoption of legislation that expanded prescriber education, made use of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) mandatory for all prescribers of controlled substances, expanded the scope of practice for pharmacists to allow them to directly prescribe naloxone and reconstituted the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council (ADPC) as a statewide coordinating body to fight the spread of substance abuse and overdose (Public Act 15-198); and
  • the 2016 legislative package that, among other things, limits the prescribing of opioid drugs to seven days (with certain exceptions), and requires municipalities to update their medical service plans to ensure first responders are equipped with Narcan (Public Act 16-43).
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