Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5487

Title:

AN ACT PROVIDING IMMUNITY TO A PERSON WHO ADMINISTERS AN OPIOID ANTAGONIST TO ANOTHER PERSON EXPERIENCING AN OPIOID-RELATED DRUG OVERDOSE.

Vote Date:

3/24/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/12/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The Dept. of Mental Health and Addictions Services reports that many overdose victims expire before they can be administered an Opioid Antagonist due to the fact that current law does not provide Good Samaritan status to the person administering the drug. Therefore delaying the administration of the drug until it's too late.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE: Strikes Lines 23 to 25 “except that the immunity provided in this subsection shall not apply to acts or omissions constituting gross, wilful or wanton negligence”.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Commissioner Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Patricia Rehmer: Supports this bill. The Connecticut legislature responded to the state's alarming opioid overdose death rate by enacting a law (PA12-159) to increase access to naloxone, a medication which reverses an opioid overdose. This law provides protections to the medications prescriber in terms of civil liability and criminal prosecution, but provides no protection to the person receiving the prescription – family member or friends invested in saving the life of someone that they know uses opioids. The law encourages overdose witnesses to call 911, but only provides the caller with protection from arrest for possession of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia, and does not address protection for any charges related to administration of narcan type drugs.

The public remains fearful of the implications of involvement in an overdose situation. Studies show that 911 is called in overdose situations in only half of the time at best. People still stand by while a companion dies from an overdose when timely intervention could have saved them.

Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Health, Jewel Mullen: Supports this bill. This bill protects individuals such as family members and friends from liability for administering an opioid antagonist to someone experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose. Naloxone/Narcan is a safe and effective prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose. Passage of this bill will protect individuals who intervene to prevent a death due to opioid overdose.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Amy B Smoyer, Ph.D: Supports this bill. The bill before you will facilitate the administration of the opioid antagonists that are needed to reverse overdose in a moment of crisis.

Aids Connecticut, Daniel Philip Davidson: Supports this bill. People from all age groups, from teenagers to seniors fall victim to opioid overdose deaths. Most of these deaths are unintentional and a number could have been prevented if friends and loved ones have access to naloxone and felt safe in using it without recrimination. Increasing access to and use of naloxone will help prevent opioid overdoses from becoming opioid deaths. It is essential that education on how to obtain and use naloxone can include an assurance that it is safe, legally speaking, for someone to aid a person in need.

Sarah J. Pavone: Supports this bill. Sarah felt that the recent loss of her cousin due to a heroin overdose may have been prevented if his friend had known and had access to naloxone.

Connecticut Pharmicists Assoc., Margherita Guiliano, Executive Vice President:

Supports this bill. This legislation provides immunity to licensed healthcare professionals and other who administer an opioid antagonist to a person they believe is having an opioid-related overdose. Amendment suggested: We would like to have pharmacists specifically mentioned in this legislation since a pharmacist is in the position to not only administer the medication but dispenses it as well.

Molly Kochenburger: Supports this bill. Some have expressed concern that by supporting this bill drug use is also being supported. This is incorrect. This legislation is already on the books, we are just working to clarify some language so it is more workable. Naloxone simply gives a 30-90 minute lifesaving window of time to call 911 and get someone to a hospital. This can make the difference between life and death.

Connecticut Prevention Network, Ingrid Gillespie,President: Supports this bill. This bill would provide immunity from liability when they administer an opioid antagonist to a person they believe, in good faith, is experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose. The opioid antagonist known as naloxone or narcan is safe, effective and a life-saving intervention for someone experiencing an opioid overdose.

Director of Public Policy, Aids Connecticut, Shawn M. Lang: Supports this bill. The changes proposed by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will allow a person to administer Naloxone to bring someone out of an overdose, save a life and call 911 for further assistance.

Windham Harm Reduction Coalition, William Tootle: Supports this bill. This bill would make opioid antagonist drugs more accessible to everyone likely to encounter an opioid overdose. Too many lives have been unnecessarily lost to preventable overdose. And too much collective pain has been unnecessarily inflicted on the people connected to those lives. No one who dies of an overdose has the chance to recover from addiction. I urge you to support this legislation.

Statewide Overdose Prevention Workgroup, Melanie Alvarez: Supports this bill.

I am a survivor of a parent who has died of an opiate related overdose, as well as a service provider at HRA of New Britain, Inc. Wellness Resource Center. Many of our clients with legitimate pain have turned to heroin as a cheaper more accessible option when prescription pain management has ceased. The Nation Drug Control Policy supports this claim by stating that four out of five heroin users start by developing an addiction to prescription pain management. I am sure that everyone on this committee is aware that Narcan is a life-saving medication and antidote for opiate overdose; however it is useless if people cannot access it or are afraid of the consequences of administering it to someone who is overdosing.

Windham Harmr Reduction Coalition Inc., Christopher Henegha.: Supports this bill. In 2009 the CDC announced that opioid overdose deaths reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Almost 40,000 American lives are lost each year to this preventable tragedy.

Naloxone is an unscheduled drug with no abuse potential and a very favorable safety profile. Its only use is to bring someone out of an opioid overdose.

Connecticut State Medical Society Dr. Peter Rostenberg: Supports this bill. Pharmacologically, naloxone is an opioid antagonist which rapidly sweeps away prescription or illicit opioids from the brains of overdose victims, restoring normal respiratory function. In public health terms, wider availability of naloxone will reduce the mortality of Connecticut's leading cause of unintentional deaths of our young people. At the present time, naloxone is the drug of choice to reverse opioid overdoses. It has no “street value” is inexpensive and is not a scheduled or controlled drug. There is no possibility for abuse.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Submitted

Reported by: George Marinelli

March 26, 2014