Malloy signs bill to combat substance abuse, opioid overdoses

Gov. Dannel Malloy hosted a bill signing ceremony in New London Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the final passage of legislation he introduced that will help curb heroin and prescription opioid abuse.

The legislation was approved last month in a unanimous vote in the State Senate. The law improves the prescription monitoring program and prescribing practices, with increased education and tools available to health care professionals, and greater accessibility of the overdose reversing drug naloxone in cases of emergency.

“We have to treat addiction like a public health issue not a crime," Malloy said. "In signing this legislation today, Connecticut is taking a stand against a nationwide prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic to become a leader in combating opioid and heroin abuse, preventing drug addiction and overdoses.

“This common sense legislation will help save lives and address a pressing public health need.”

The legislation streamlines the process to help practitioners identify potential abuse that leads to overprescribing by requiring them to check patient history to verify if patients seeking certain prescriptions have recently received these medications from multiple other prescribers or pharmacists.

Under this law, in cases of overdose or medical emergency, the drug naloxone will be more widely available, allowing pharmacists, after being trained and certified to prescribe it to Connecticut families, first responders, and the treatment community across the state.

In Connecticut, State Police Troopers have saved more than 30 lives from drug overdose by administering NARCAN.

This bill is not the first time the administration has worked to combat drug overdose, improve patient safety and conserve access to effective pain treatment. Malloy implemented Good Samaritan laws in 2012 that have provided legal protection to people reaching out to save a relative, friend or loved one who may be overdosing.

In addition, as a leader of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), Malloy helped establish a multi-state agreement to improve the prescription database and expand treatment options for opioid abusers.

“We are sending the message that we are on a road to recovery with a Second Chance Society that targets addiction as a complex disease not a crime, stopping a multigenerational cycle of abuse at its roots to prevent opioid overdose and save countless lives,” said Malloy.

The legislation is Public Act 15-198, An Act Concerning Substance Abuse and Opioid Overdose Prevention