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6/5/2018 Senate passes McCaffrey legislation that would allow fentanyl test strips to prevent overdose deaths
STATE HOUSE — The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) to codify the legality of fentanyl testing strips. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is the leading driver of overdose deaths in Rhode Island.

The legislation (2018-S 2896) would allow distribution and utilization of narcotic testing products to assist persons in determining whether drugs contain toxic substances. Narcotic testing products include fentanyl testing strips.

“First and foremost, we’re concerned with saving lives,” said Senator McCaffrey. “The Opioid Crisis has touched individuals and families in all walks of life across Rhode Island. This epidemic demands that we employ a comprehensive, forward thinking strategy to save lives and make our communities safer.”

This bill would also provide those distributing testing products with protection from civil liability or criminal prosecution.

The foundation of the proposed legislation is drawn from two recent Rhode Island-based research studies led by a team of professionals, including by Dr. Traci Green and Dr. Brandon Marshall of the Brown University School of Public Health, which highlighted the benefits of this type of public health intervention.

The studies found that fentanyl test strips are:
  • A cost-effective way to prevent an overdose. The test strips cost about $1 per strip and are sensitive to detect fentanyl in very small doses.   
  • Supported by professionals throughout the health care system, including: primary care doctors, school nurses, mental health and substance use professionals, hospital emergency departments, law enforcement professionals, and first responders.
  • A public health and information-based approach to the overdose epidemic, rather than ineffective, punitive measures that perpetuate the failed war on drugs.
The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2018-H 8132) has been introduced by Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903