Gov. Malloy proposes new legislation targeting Connecticut’s opioid crisis

Image courtesy of WFSB live-feed

HARTFORD >> Gov. Dannel Malloy’s first legislative proposal of 2017 will target the state’s opioids crisis by monitoring narcotics prescriptions, requiring more prescribers to provide information about addiction risk and allowing patients to refuse opioid prescriptions.

Malloy unveiled his proposed legislative package during a press conference at Toivo by Advocacy Unlimited, a holistic wellness center in Hartford. The presser introduced the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ new project, called “Remembrance Quilt,” to memorialize loved ones lost to addiction.

The proposed legislation is the latest in a series of bills that have been proposed and signed into law since 2011. Malloy said the opioid crisis is complex, without a singular root cause or simple solution.

“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,” Malloy said in a release. “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.”

Reforms introduced include requiring electronic prescriptions for narcotics, to help reduce the potential for fraud and allow the prescription to be tracked. Expanding access to who can dispose medication will help prevent inappropriate use of medications, while Malloy is also proposing allowing patients to voluntarily opt out of being prescribed opioids. This would be done by having patients signing a form.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said in the release that it’s important to prescribe painkillers responsibily.

“Nearly half of all opioid-related deaths in our country involve prescription painkillers,” 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.”

The proposed legislation would require more communication between adults and providers about the potential for addiction when using opioids. It will also encourage more data sharing between state agencies to better track the state’s epidemic.

Laws focusing on addiction passed by Gov. Malloy since 2001

  • 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).

SOURCE: Gov. Malloy’s office 

-Esteban L. Hernandez, New Haven Register 



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