Connecticut lawmakers are seeking to place new limits on opioid prescriptions to help address the problem of deadly overdoses.
The General Assembly's Public Health Committee forwarded a bill on Monday that would limit doctors to writing only seven-day prescriptions for first-time adult patients. Those patients would have to return to their physician to have a prescription refilled, possibly for a longer period. The current cap is a monthly supply.
Democratic Sen. Terry Gerrantana, the committee's co-chairman, says lawmakers "realize what is happening in our communities" with the large number of deadly drug overdoses in Connecticut.
The bill would also allow "standing orders" for pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists, such as Narcan, to friends and family of someone at risk of overdosing.
Sue Kruczek's son was an athlete, a star hockey player, who was addicted to heroin.
"His very first game, an upperclassman tossed him a little white pill to help him relax. Nick must have liked the way it made him feel because he later told us he never skated a high school game sober," Kruczek said.
Nick tried to stay clean and went through rehab and was doing okay but then he relapsed and overdosed. He was only 20 years old.
Lawmakers feel there should be limits on how much a doctor can prescribe opioid pain medications because too often people get addicted and pills can end up in the wrong hands.
"It empowers doctors to say 'actually, we need a break here, we need to pause and think is it still safe...is it still effective is it still the right next step'," said Dr. Dan Tobin of Yale University School of Medicine.
Heroin deaths are increasing at an alarming rate. Between 2014 and 2015 there were 723 overdoses, up 27 percent from the previous year. Half of those who misuse prescription painkillers get them from a friend.
The bill has received bipartisan support. It now awaits action in the state Senate and then the House.
Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.