Moore Applauds Unanimous Senate Passage of Legislation to Combat the Opioid Epidemic
Bill expands access to Narcan and limits first-time opioid prescriptions
Today Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) brought a bill to the floor of the Senate that aims to confront Connecticut’s growing opioid epidemic. House Bill 5053, An Act Concerning Access to Overdose Reversal Drugs takes a multi-faceted approach to the problem that legislators and advocates believe will lower addiction risks and save lives. The bill received unanimous, bipartisan approval in the Senate and now moves to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy to await his signature.
“This bill is in response to what I’ve heard at community meetings from parents who have children suffering from heroin addictions,” said Sen. Moore. “It’s one component to begin to address the opioid addiction that faces our children. We still have much more work to do.”
This comprehensive legislation addresses the over-prescribing of opioid painkillers and ensures that first-responders are better equipped to manage opioid addiction. It sets a cap on first-time painkiller prescriptions to a 7-day supply for minors and adults, except under limited circumstances and requires that doctors explain the risks of opioid use to minors before prescribing them. The bill also strengthens Connecticut’s prescription drug monitoring program which helps physicians determine if their patients may be at risk for opioid addiction.
House Bill 5053 requires that local emergency medical services (EMS) carry naloxone, commonly sold under the brand name “Narcan,” which can save the life of a person experiencing an opioid overdose. The bill also prevents health insurers from requiring prior authorization for Narcan prescriptions, allowing more people to have the drug on hand and ready to administer in an emergency situation. Health care professionals and good Samaritans will also be released from liability when they administer Narcan or another opioid antagonist to treat an overdose. Finally, the bill adds more on-the-ground experts, including an emergency medical technician and a licensed drug and alcohol counselor to the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council.
Earlier this year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised doctors to refrain from giving opioid prescriptions to patients suffering from non-chronic pain, stating that the risks for such patients include addiction and death. The CDC also reported that from 2000 to 2014, the numbers of overdose deaths involving opioids, which include prescription opioids as well as heroin, increased by 200 percent. The organization has called combating opioid use and overdoses a “national priority.”
Last year, the CDC reported that people who use prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to try heroin. Every year there is a significant increase in heroin deaths. From 2014 to 2015, heroin deaths increased by 27 percent in Connecticut and according to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 723 people died in 2015 from heroin, cocaine or other drugs such as morphine.