(Hartford, CT)- Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal released his comprehensive report Opioid Addiction: A Call to Action. This detailed report, which includes a multipronged plan of action, comes after Blumenthal’s nine roundtables across Connecticut with first responders, law enforcement, addiction recovery experts, and people personally affected by opioid addiction.
“Rampant opioid addiction is sweeping our nation like a hurricane—leaving overdose deaths and heartbroken families in its wake. In the face of this surging opioid crisis, I have met with people across Connecticut who are on the front lines of the fight against this deadly epidemic. I have heard from first responders, law enforcement, substance abuse specialists—and most importantly from families who have tragically lost loved ones to addiction. Their personal insight serves as the powerful foundation of this report. Their firsthand experience guides the detailed policy strategy we put forth. And their unwavering bravery transforms their personal tragedy into ‘A Call to Action.’”
The report outlines the 23 following specific recommendations in five primary areas:
- PRESCRIBING PRACTICES: The report recommends prescribing practices through mandatory training and increased use of alternative pain management methods.
§ Mandate training to reduce opioid over-prescribing and encourage alternatives
§ Encourage compliance with CDC opioid prescribing guidelines
§ Establish FDA risk evaluation and mitigation strategy for immediate release opioids
§ Promulgate DEA guidelines for partial fill of opioid prescriptions
- TREATMENT: The report recommends an expansion of access to quality substance abuse programs and behavioral health services.
§ Require annual reports by insurers on mental health parity implementation
§ Institute federal audits of insurers’ compliance with mental health parity
§ Establish consumer clearinghouse on mental health parity and complaint filing
§ Enhance access to comprehensive medication-assisted therapy
- EMERGENCY MEDICAL RESPONSE: The report recommends strengthening emergency response and coordination in crisis situations through expanded access to affordable Naloxone.
§ Encourage insurers to reimburse pharmacists for providing naloxone
§ Eliminate insurer copays and other restrictions on take-home naloxone and kits
§ Increase federal funding for naloxone and first responder training for this treatment
§ Provide federal and state protection for good faith use of naloxone in an emergency
- LAW ENFORCEMENT: The report recommends providing federal, state and local law enforcement resources to fight drug trafficking and to address addiction that leads to criminal acts.
§ Maintain or increase federal funding for federal-state narcotics task forces
§ Expand funding for the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program
§ Increase federal funding for alternatives to incarceration for drug addicted criminals
§ Fund law enforcement training to recognize and respond to suspected criminals with substance abuse and mental health disorders
§ Increase substance abuse and mental health services to the incarcerated
§ Expand drug takeback programs to hospitals, pharmacies, and other locations
§ Expand funding for state-operated prescription drug monitoring programs
- VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: The report recommends enhancing VA leadership in education, research and treatment of opioid misuse and abuse.
§ Establish more consistent, safe VA prescribing practices
§ Make more non-opioid pain management therapies available to veterans
§ Create an integrated service model for mental health and pain management
§ Require VA participation in state prescription drug monitoring programs
Over the past year, Blumenthal held roundtable discussions with medical professionals, advocates, and individuals and families affected by opioid addiction in Torrington, Rocky Hill, Willimantic, Wethersfield, New Britain, New London, New Haven, and Bridgeport, Connecticut.