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Malloy proposes legislative action to combat opioid addiction and overdoses

Governor Malloy

Governor Malloy

Governor Malloy  in his first legislative proposals of the 2017 session – unveiled a package of statutory reforms he is proposing that focus on efforts to reduce the potential for people to become addicted to opioid medications that could cause a life-threatening overdose.

The proposals build upon a series of reforms the Governor has signed into law on the issue since 2011.

“Every city and every town in the country has been touched in some way by substance abuse – and in particular the growing prescription pain killer epidemic. Our local communities are no exception. This is a complex crisis that does not have one root cause, nor does it have a simple solution,” Governor Malloy said. “Addiction is a disease, and together we can treat and prevent it. Our work on this front will not be finished until our communities and our families are no longer struggling with the grave costs of this illness.”

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.

“Nearly half of all opioid-related deaths in our country involve prescription painkillers. While prescription painkillers have a place in treating patients experiencing pain, it’s important that they are prescribed responsibly and safely stored,” Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said.

“By taking steps to safeguard access to these medications, we are not only helping to prevent prescription painkillers from falling into the wrong hands, but we’re also helping to prevent addiction.”

“Opioid abuse and addiction is deeply personal for too many families and communities in Connecticut. There’s not one way to fight the opioid crisis, and we can only make progress by enacting common sense remedies that attack the problem from many directions,” Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris said.

“The proposals Governor Malloy is raising this year, like the many efforts he has championed in past legislative sessions, are a priority of the Department of Consumer Protection’s Drug Control Division, and we’re committed to help build support for these new initiatives that will provide more ways to prevent families from suffering.”

Since taking office, Governor Malloy has enacted several policy changes 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).

Governor Malloy’s 2017 legislation on this topic – along with all of his other legislative proposals for this session – will be filed in the coming days. The proposals will receive a bill number at that time.

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