By Matthew McKibben | March 31, 2014
The New York state Senate passed legislation last week that would give more people access to an antidote that, if used timely and correctly, can prevent accidental overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids.
The bill, (S.6477-b/A.8637-b), which is sponsored by Sen. Kemp Hannon, allows authorized health care professionals to issue non-patient specific orders for Naloxone to certified training programs and pharmacies, which could then distribute the drug kits and provide instructions on how to properly administer it.
“New York state, like the nation, is in the midst of a severe prescription drug crisis, and there is a need to look at the complete spectrum of drug abuse in order to address the crisis,” said Hannon, R–Garden City, chair of the Senate Health Committee.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 19 minutes one person dies from an accidental overdose from prescription drug abuse. In an effort to curtail this prescription drug crisis, the state Legislature enacted the I-STOP program in 2012, which aims to put prescription drugs in the hands of the people who truly need them. According to a Senate press release street, access to prescription drugs has declined since I-STOP was created, but many drug abusers are now turning to other illegal substances, such as heroin, a cheaper alternative.
“It has been estimated that heroin addiction on Long Island has increased nearly fourfold since 2011. This alarming statistic demonstrates the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing the state’s drug crisis. Ensuring families have access to Naloxone is the next necessary step” Hannon said.
Following the passage of the legislation through the Senate, Vocal-NY – a New York City-based community group that looks to reduce drug addictions – issued a statement saying, “This is the single best action the Legislature could take today to immediately and directly reduce overdose deaths.”
“Community health organizations have a huge amount of unused capacity to deliver overdose prevention education and Naloxone to those in need, but we’ve been hamstrung by having only a limited number of prescribers involved in this work, in large part due to inadequate funding,” said Matt Curtis, the group’s policy director.