RI lawmakers hear bills aimed at curbing drug overdoses

Several bills being discussed in the Rhode Island Senate are aimed at curbing drug overdoses, the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the state.

One of the bills would prevent insurance companies from limiting drugs doctors can prescribe. The measure would allow doctors to prescribe newer forms of opiate pain medications that can help prevent addiction, even if those newer drugs are more expensive.

"So that it can't be snorted, crushed, liquefied. And in some cases and the ones that we're really focusing on tonight are the newer ones that put the opiod antagonist right into the medication itself. You get the pain relief, but you don't get the addictive high from the pill," said Steven Detoy of the Rhode Island Medical Society.

A couple of other bills were up for discussion Tuesday.

One would require pharmacies to let a doctor know when certain patients refill prescriptions. Another would require health insurance companies to cover drugs that can help people recover from addiction.

"Addiction is a real epidemic. Overdose stats are a symptom of that epidemic. We really have to stay on point and keep in the public eye," James Gillen of the Anchor Recovery Community Center.

The state Department of Health said there have been 72 apparent accidental overdose deaths this year.