Bill restricting access to pain pills goes to governor

A bill that aims to restrict access to addictive painkillers is awaiting the governor's signature in order to become law.



Under the bill, doctors would initially prescribe opioids for seven days. Patients seeking more medication would have to return to the doctor. 



Michael Grimaldi, a pharmacist at Vital Care in Norwalk, is cautiously optimistic about the bill. "It's not a bad idea," he says. "I don't think it goes far enough." He says the new law does nothing to limit a single prescription's dosage.



Also, until July, the state's prescription-monitoring system would have up to a week's lag time.



Health professionals say painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet and oxycodone are highly addictive, and some users move on to become heroin addicts.



Drug-treatment counselor Nick deSpoelberch knows firsthand how addictive the drugs can be. Now himself in recovery for heroin addiction, he counsels heroin addicts.



"It most often starts with those excess Percocet bottles, Vicodin bottles written for oral surgery, written for a sprain, written for a fractured ankle," says deSpelberch. "There's no magic bullet for this, but I think it's going to help," he says, referring to the bill.



Counselors believe that the bigger problem is getting more treatment beds and more insurance plans to cover drug-addiction treatments.



If and when Gov. Dannel Malloy signs the bill, it would go into effect July 1.


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