Press Release | 6/23/14
Health advocates, legislators, and community members today applauded New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing legislation to allow healthcare providers and pharmacies to distribute naloxone, the heroin and prescription painkiller overdose antidote, without a prescriber present. The bill passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in both houses of the state legislature earlier this year.
“This law is a game-changer for communities across the state,” said Matt Curtis, Policy Director at VOCAL-NY. “It takes the handcuffs off more than 100 registered overdose prevention programs, allowing us to deliver training and naloxone kits whenever and wherever needed. The bill sponsors, Governor Cuomo, and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried – who was closely involved in crafting the bill – deserve great credit for a law that will save thousands of lives in the midst of a statewide overdose epidemic.”
While community organizations have provided training and naloxone to people at risk of overdose and family members for 10 years in New York, such efforts have been bottlenecked by a lack of prescribing physicians. Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the state. Giving naloxone to community members has been adopted as a key prevention strategy and has been endorsed by the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, the American Medical Association, and many other leading national and international organizations.
Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), who sponsored the bill, said “Today marks an important step in combating a problem that is rampant in New York; I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law that will immediately help get this life-saving drug into the hands of those who need it the most. While there is much more to do in fighting the heroin epidemic that we are facing, allowing standing order, or non-patient specific, prescription of opioid antagonists will help to save hundreds if not thousands of lives in all corners of the state. This bill continues the mounting effort to help distribute naloxone to as many people as possible who are in a position to stop an overdose.”
Senate bill sponsor Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) said that “heroin addiction on Long Island has increased nearly fourfold since 2011. If we’re going to solve the problem we need to use several strategies at once. This legislation will build upon the 2005 law I sponsored establishing the Opioid Overdoes Prevention Program by further expanding access to naloxone. Increasing access to naloxone will go hand-in-hand with recent action by the legislature to remove insurance barriers to drug treatment and rein in over-prescribing and diversion of opioid painkillers.”
Naloxone is a safe, easy-to-administer, and highly effective overdose antidote that has been distributed to people likely to witness an opioid overdose in New York since 2004. The new law expands access to this life-saving medication for those in need by making it easier for healthcare organizations and pharmacies to distribute naloxone. Similar laws and regulations were previously adopted in Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, and elsewhere.
The new law also will streamline the process needed for law enforcement personnel to carry naloxone. Recently New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Governor Cuomo announced separate initiatives to equip police officers across the state, and the NYPD will soon have roughly 20,000 patrol officers carrying naloxone.
Contact: Matt Curtis, 646-234-9062, firstname.lastname@example.org