Friday, June 02, 2017

Op-ed by Senator Art Linares

Image from WGBH News, Boston
Legislation Addresses Prescriptions to Combat State’s Opioid Crisis
 
Editor's Note:  The State of Ohio just joined with Mississippi and two counties in West Virginia is suing pharma manufacturers for their roles in fueling the opioid crisis.  

Almost every day there is a story in the news about how opioid addiction has destroyed lives and families in our country. In Connecticut in 2016, more than 900 people succumbed to their addiction, dying from some type of drug overdose.

No drug addiction seems to have ravaged our society quite like opioids. Victims have been upstanding members of the community like all-star college and high school athletes, devoted mothers and fathers, and even loving grandparents. And often, the addiction starts when opioids are prescribed after a surgery or injury, exposing people who would never consider using drugs to a powerful narcotic.

A bill on the State Senate calendar that I anticipate voting on in the next few days is HB 7052, An Act Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion And Abuse. This bill seeks to address addiction before it starts by requiring the recording and monitoring of prescriptions for controlled substances. Under the bill, the Department of Consumer Protection would monitor these prescriptions and have the ability to share some of that information with other state agencies for studies involving drug abuse. This helps DCP recognize and prevent improper or illegal drug use or improper prescribing.

Photo from Medscape.com

Another important aspect of the bill requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be transmitted electronically to a pharmacy. If a medical professional’s prescription pad is lost or stolen, it could not be used to forge scripts for controlled substances. The prescribing physician also must keep records of controlled substances prescribed and make them available for review by DCP.

As a way to prevent unused opioid prescriptions from being misused by another person or even by the person prescribed the medication, the bill will allow certain registered nurses to destroy or dispose of their patient's controlled substances.

If patients know that they have a problem with controlled substances or are concerned that they might have a problem, the bill creates a process so patients can request not to be prescribed an opioid drug. A prescriber who willfully violates a patients wish not to receive a controlled substance can have their license suspended by the Department of Public Health.
To ensure that patients know about the potential for addiction, the bill requires practitioners, when prescribing opioids, to discuss with all patients the risks associated with opioid drug use. Now, medical professionals are only required to share this information with minor patients. This requirement, as well as the ability of nurses to dispose of prescriptions takes effect as soon as the bill passes. More time is given for the other requirements to ensure that medical professionals and pharmacies are able to comply.

I don’t expect this bill to solve the opioid addiction crisis in our state. This problem has been years in the making and it will take time to get it under control.

Too many Connecticut families have been devastated by a loved-one’s opioid addiction. I believe this bill moves our state in the direction of trying to stop addiction before it has a chance to cause more families to suffer the pain and heartbreak this disease causes.
It’s not a cure, but it’s a start.

Senator Art Linares (R-33) represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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