HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London has revised the numbers and now says there were 26 heroin overdoses there in the last 12 days. The alarming number of overdoses is bringing calls for making the miracle overdose reversing drug ‘Narcan’ available ‘over-the-counter’ without a prescription.
The vigil in New London last week attested to the epidemic of heroin overdoses in Southeastern Connecticut. Over two dozen in a little over a week with one death.
It has been a steadily growing problem in the entire state. Over 600 people died in 2014, a number that has doubled in the past five years and is prompting even more urgent calls for more widespread access to the miracle drug ‘Naloxone’ commonly called ‘Narcan’ that can reverse the symptoms of an overdose within minutes with no after affects. Since the State Police were trained and started carrying it, 63 lives have been saved.
“This is a big health care issue and everyone has ideas and concerns that they would like us to take up,” said Sen. Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain) the co-chair of the legislature’s Public Health Committee. Gerratana says a public hearing on the issue will move to the fast track probably within the next few weeks and may be held jointly with the legislature’s Public Safety Committee.
Last year, the legislature passed a law allowing third parties, like a parent or sibling, to get a prescription for ‘Narcan.’ Some say that doesn’t go far enough and are pushing to make it as easy to get as aspirin. “To make it more accessible and have it be ‘over-the-counter’ so anybody could walk into a drug store and pick up this drug to help counteract a heroin overdose,” said Public Health Committee member Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford.)
Gov. Malloy said today, “If the legislature would like to take it up sooner, I’m all for getting things done well before the last day.” The Governor has proposed his own bill that would require first responders in all cities and towns to have ‘Narcan’ and to prohibit insurance companies from requiring prior authorization for coverage.