State Representatives Cara Christine Pavalock (R-77) and Whit Betts (R-78) joined their colleagues in the House to pass legislation that requires cities and towns to make sure they have at least one first responder equipped and trained to administer the reversal drug naloxone (Narcan) and to limit the amount of opioid medication that can be prescribed to a patient.
“The opioid epidemic has affected urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout the state, including the city of Bristol,” said Pavalock in a Republican press release. “There is much work to be done, and I proudly voted in favor of this legislation which takes important steps to combat this widespread and growing opioid epidemic. It is also my hope that this will encourage open conversation between doctors and patients about the best course of treatment for people needing pain management with opioid prescriptions.”
House Bill 5053, An Act Increasing Access to Overdose Reversal Drugs, passed out of the House of Representatives on Monday with unanimous, bipartisan support, and incorporates a number of measures including, said the press release:
*Requiring municipalities to equip and train their first responders to administer naloxone, an overdose reversing drug.
*For adults, limiting the number of pills in an opioid prescription to a seven-day supply.
*For minors, limiting the number of pills in an opioid prescription to a seven-day supply and requiring the prescriber to discuss the potential danger of the drug with the patient and the guardian, if they are present
*Prohibiting commercial health carriers from requiring prior authorization for coverage of naloxone. *Making several changes to the state’s electronic prescription monitoring program to help facilitate prescriber and pharmacist compliance.
Betts, a member of the legislature’s Public Health Committee added, according to the press release, “Daily we continue to see or hear news reports on the growing opioid crisis affecting our communities. The number of overdoses and reported deaths continues to rise at a staggering pace with no sign of slowing. It is critical that the legislature act to intervene in this public health crisis and that is why I voted in strong support of the measure.”
Just last year, 723 people in Connecticut died as a result of a drug overdose, which is double the amount from 2012. Of this amount, 415 were related to heroin, which represents a 27 percent increase from 2014.
The General Assembly has made efforts in recent years to address the addiction crisis, including last session’s Public Act 15-198, which allows pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists and was supported by Pavalock and Betts, said the press release.