Posted on May 15, 2019 by admin
In an effort to reduce opioid abuse and the potential for overdose, State Representatives Tony D’Amelio (R-71) and Stephanie Cummings (R-74) today joined their colleagues who voted unanimously to make it a felony to distribute or sell the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
HB 5524 – An Act Increasing the Penalties for the Sale of Fentanyl – formally classifies the synthetic opioid fentanyl as a narcotic substance, and further defines the compounds or components of fentanyl as narcotic substances, including those drugs that are chemically equivalent or identical to fentanyl. Under Connecticut law, the penalties for certain illegal actions involving narcotics are higher than those for certain other non-narcotic controlled substances, including illegally manufacturing, distributing, selling, and prescribing narcotics.
“This legislation will help us end the opioid crisis that is hurting so many of our neighbors and ruining our state, and put drug dealers in prison where they belong,” Rep. D’Amelio said. “Sadly, drug use and abuse seems to be increasing, and increasingly deadly with substances like fentanyl being sold or mixed into other drugs. Holding the people who traffic in these dangerous substances accountable is a positive step.”
“The opioid crisis that has grown exponentially over the past decade negatively affects everyone in the Greater Waterbury area, our state and the country and I’m proud we took a stand today to hold those who deal and distribute such deadly substances accountable for their actions,” Rep. Cummings who serves on the legislature’s powerful Judiciary Committee, said. “Eliminating the scourge of drugs in our communities is a priority for the legislature and I’m proud of our vote today. This legislation will save lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic used to reduce pain by depressing the central nervous system and respiratory functions of the user. The drug does not usually cause a loss of consciousness. They estimate fentanyl to be 80 times more potent than morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.
In recent years, other pieces of legislation aimed at reducing opioid-related addiction and death have passed the legislature. Public Act 17-131 requires medication prescriptions be transcribed electronically to safeguard against overprescribing, reduced the maximum number of days for a prescription from seven to five for minors and allows patients to request drugs other than opioids be prescribed. Public Act 16-43 Public Act 16-43 Public Act 16-43Public Act 16-43 requires municipalities to equip and train their first responders to administer naloxone, an overdose reversing drug, limits the number of pills in an opioid prescription to a seven-day supply and prohibits commercial health carriers from requiring prior authorization for coverage of naloxone. Public Act 15-198 allows pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists.
Still, fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise statewide. According to statistics from the state’s chief medical examiner, fentanyl was present in about 4% of drug overdose deaths in 2012 and more than 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2018.