Photo of Senator Kennedy.

State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Kennedy Leads Unanimous Senate Passage of Legislation to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Bill limits access to opioids, expands access to overdose reversal medications, and takes other steps to fight opioid addiction

Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) today led the overwhelming, bipartisan passage of House Bill 7052, which will transform the way Connecticut combats the opioid epidemic. The bill includes the creation of a “standing order” model, which Senator Kennedy has fought for as a way to provide families with easier access to naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, a life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.

An increase in prescriptions for opioid painkillers by doctors has led to a dramatic increase in people addicted to heroin and other opioids. 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. There were 917 fatal overdoses in Connecticut during 2016, an increase of 26 percent over the previous year, and the vast majority of these involved opioids.

“Every family is touched by addiction in some way and knows the pain the disease can cause to those living with it and the people who love them. The national opioid epidemic has made the realities more true and painful than ever and we need to do everything we can to save lives and help people get better,” said Senator Kennedy. “This bill makes important policy changes that will limit the risk of opioid addiction among all Connecticut residents. By establishing a standing order and improving access to detox and treatment facilities, we are giving families the tools they need to pull a loved one back from the opioid addiction so they can seek recovery.”

This year’s bill builds upon bills passed by Senator Kennedy in previous years to fight back against the growing opioid epidemic. This year’s bill:

  • Establishes a “standing order” model, which would make it easier for friends and family members of opioid addicts to obtain Narcan, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication;
  • Reduces the maximum opioid prescription for minors from 7 days to 5 days, unless the prescribing doctor can document that an extended prescription is absolutely necessary to treat chronic pain, acute pain, or palliative care;
  • Requires that health insurers cover medically necessary detox equipment
  • Allows for the safe disposal of unused medications by registered nurses (RNs) providing home health care, which can include taking the medications to a prescription drug drop box;
  • Increases the sharing of data on opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths by state agencies;
  • Makes opioid prescriptions more secure by ensuring that they be electronically prescribed, rather than prescribed using a pad and paper;
  • Requires alcohol and drug treatment facilities use American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria for admission guidelines
  • Ensures that all patients being prescribed an opioid are informed and aware of the risks of opioid use, signs of addictions, and dangers of drug interactions; and
  • Allows patients to add a file to their medical record indicating that they do not want to be prescribed or administered any opioids.

Kennedy worked to ensure that this bill establishes the standing order model for Narcan. This means that a prescription has been given not for any specific person, but for people meeting certain criteria, such as being the relative of a person addicted to opioids. Under current law, many pharmacists have run into billing issues when prescribing Narcan to a customer. Pharmacists attempting to contact the insurer of the person seeking Narcan have been denied or delayed in giving the prescription. In the case of Narcan, this kind of delay can cost someone their life. This bill eliminates those issues, making it easier for people to gain access to this life-saving medication as soon as they need it.

Now that House Bill 7052 has passed in the Senate and House of Representatives, it moves to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy and awaits his signature.

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