- On Wednesday, Connecticut lawmakers approved legislation aimed at curbing the state’s opioid abuse crisis, WNPR reports.
- The bill, which targets those at risk of developing an opioid use problem as well as people who are already addicted, passed the Senate unanimously. The House of Representatives passed it earlier.
- Other provisions in the bill include requiring healthcare providers to educate patients about opioid risks and allowing electronic prescribing only — a step aimed at reducing falsified prescriptions and other potential misuses, NBC Connecticut reports.
Use of prescription painkillers in the U.S. has surged in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors prescribed four times as many opioids in 2010 as in 1999. And increased prescribing has come with a deadly cost: Between 1999 and 2014, more than 165,000 American died from opioid overdoses.
The Connecticut legislation, which Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy is expected to sign, strengthens oversight of prescribed opioid drugs, increases the ability of state agencies to share data on opioid abuse and overdose deaths and caps prescriptions for children at five days, down from seven currently.
Among the bill’s provisions is a patient’s right to insert a form in their medical records stating their refusal to be prescribed opioids. It also allows registered nurses with home health agencies to destroy leftover medications and mandates that medically necessary detox treatment be covered by health plans.
The electronic prescriptions mandate reflects a broader trend in prescribing nationally. According to a Surescripts report released earlier this week, the number of e-prescriptions jumped 12% to 1.6 billion in 2016, up from 1.4 billion the previous year. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has promoted the use of e-prescriptions, saying patients like them and they reduce fraud and abuse.
Connecticut is not the only state trying to mandate e-prescribing. A 2012 New York law — the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, or I-STOP — requires New York providers to do all their prescribing electronically.