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05/27/2016

Gov. Malloy Signs Comprehensive Bill Combating Opioid Abuse and Launches Strategic Plan to Tackle Addiction

Bill Limits Opioid Prescriptions to Seven Days; New Partnership Created between the State, Yale, and Insurance Carriers to Develop a Strategic Plan on Fighting the Epidemic

Governor Malloy Signing Bill

Governor Malloy Speaking About the Bill

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(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today signed into law legislation that he introduced - in collaboration with several members of the General Assembly - that will expand the state's effort to combat the opioid epidemic.

"Our nation is facing a prescription painkiller and heroin overdose epidemic. Connecticut is not immune. That's why this bill builds upon our past efforts that we have made to prevent drug abuse and addition, to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug misuse, and to save the lives of those who suffer from addiction. These are critical steps forward," Governor Malloy said. "The provisions in this legislation will help save lives. I especially want to thank my colleagues in the General Assembly who we partnered with in developing this comprehensive bill. Addiction is a disease. Our work is not finished until our communities and our families are no longer struggling with the grave costs of this illness."

The legislation, Public Act 16-43, is comprehensive in nature and incorporates several provisions, including:

  • Limiting the prescription of opioid drugs by:
    • prohibiting, for adult patients, an initial prescription of opioid drugs for longer than seven days
    • prohibiting, for minor patients, any prescriptions of opioid drugs for longer than seven days and requiring the prescriber to discuss the risks associated with the drug with the patient and, if present, the custodial parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of the patient
    • allowing, for both adult and minor patients, a prescriber to give more than a seven-day supply of opioid drugs if, in the prescriber's professional medical judgement, the acute or chronic pain condition requires it and requires the prescriber to note such condition in the medical record
  • Requiring municipalities to update their existing emergency medical services plans to ensure that the emergency responder likely to the first person on the scene of an emergency call is equipped with and prepared to administer the overdose reversal drug naloxone and has been appropriately trained to do so
  • Closing a gap in current liability language related to a licensed health care professional who administers an opioid antagonist
  • Prohibiting commercial health carriers from requiring prior authorization for coverage of naloxone
  • Requiring the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council's state plan to include, by January 1, 2017, a goal of reducing the number of opioid-induced deaths in the state
  • Making several changes to the state's electronic prescription monitoring program to help facilitate prescriber and pharmacist compliance

In addition to today's bill signing, Governor Malloy also announced the creation of a partnership between his office, the Yale School of Medicine, and Connecticut's insurance carriers to develop a strategic plan to guide the state's response to the epidemic. Lead by Dr. David Fiellin of Yale, this effort will be shaped by addiction experts and state agency leaders, and will include input from local and national experts, as well as the general public.

The group will be responsible for developing a succinct, prioritized, three-year strategy for the state on opioid addiction and overdoses. It will emphasize strategic initiatives to prevent and treat addiction based on evidence, public input, and judgement about where efforts can have the most impact.

"I applaud the efforts of Governor Malloy and legislative leadership to combat the use of opioids and address addiction and recovery in a broader way," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "These improved strategies will help residents lead healthier lives, ensure first responders have the right tools to treat overdoses, and give healthcare providers better systems for preventing addiction at the outset."

"This year we heard far too many tragic stories about people being prescribed opioid painkillers and then finding themselves developing a crippling addiction. This legislation takes the right steps toward curbing that trend and giving our state the tools to fight back," State Senator Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain), co-chair of the legislature's Public Health Committee, said. "No family should have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one to addiction. We should all be happy about the legislation signed into law today, but this opioid epidemic is far from solved. My colleagues and I on the Public Health Committee will continue monitoring this situation and working to develop safe and effective solutions."

"Capping prescriptions for painkillers will both reduce the risk that a patient develops an addiction and prevent excess opioids from falling into the wrong hands. The fact that the Connecticut State Medical Society approved this legislation is a good indicator of how careful we were to craft a measure that doesn't interfere with doctors' ability to do their jobs," State Representative Matt Ritter (D-Hartford), co-chair of the legislature's Public Health Committee, said. "We should take pride in the steps this legislation takes to combat opioid addiction, while also looking ahead to new solutions. I know that my colleagues and I on the Public Health Committee will continue to look at innovative ways to address this epidemic."

Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commended the Governor and legislature for the passage of the legislation. "This legislation continues to build on comprehensive strategies that will help us to address this epidemic," she said. "It increases access to the lifesaving medication Narcan and limits access to prescription opioids. The legislation provides us with additional tools needed to combat the epidemic."

Commissioner Joette Katz of the Department of Children and Families said Connecticut children have been severely affected by the opioid epidemic. "The majority of children who enter state care come from families with a substance use disorder, and the rapid rise in opioid addiction is cause for real alarm," she explained. "This legislation and the collaboration between the state, Yale and the insurance industry is a big step forward to address this menace."

"Our team at Yale is very excited to be working with Governor Malloy and the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council on a plan to address opioid addiction and overdose in Connecticut," Dr. Fiellin said. "We look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a strategic plan that is evidence-based, data-driven and focused on the strategies that will most effectively treat and prevent the disease of opioid addiction."

The bill the Governor signed today builds upon several measures he enacted into law over the last several years including:

  • 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. To date, State Troopers have saved 63 lives by utilizing this law. (Public Act 14-61)
  • The 2015 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)
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