PR: NY Legislature Passes Overdose Prevention Bill; Advocates Urge Gov. Cuomo to Quickly Sign into Law

Press Release | 5/7/14

New York Legislature Unanimously Passes Lifesaving Overdose Prevention Bill; Advocates Urge Gov. Cuomo to Quickly Sign into Law
Legislation Will Reduce Number One Cause of Accidental Death in New York State by Increasing Access to Antidote, Naloxone (Narcan)

Albany, NY – Advocates are calling on Governor Cuomo to sign a bi-partisan bill that will expand access to a life-saving medication called naloxone (Narcan) that can prevent overdose deaths involving heroin and prescription opioids. The bill (S6477/A8637) passed the legislature unanimously – on May 6th in the Assembly, where it was introduced by Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), and on March 27th in the Senate, where it was introduced by Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau).  (For additional background, see VOCAL-NY’s memo of support for the legislation and a statement by over thirty organizations that have endorsed it.)

“I am tremendously pleased that the Assembly has passed this important legislation, and I hope the governor signs the bill into law quickly,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. “The explosion of opioid abuse, especially heroin, in the last few years across the country has shed new light on accidental overdoses. This legislation will create further access to a life-saving drug that when administered properly is known to stop the effects of accidental overdoses. If we create more access in conjunction with ramping up outreach efforts, we can help save thousands of lives each year.”

“This bill will save lives,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.  “Naloxone is safe, easy to administer, and effective.  This legislation will get naloxone in the hands of more people who need it.”

“It has been estimated that heroin addiction on Long Island has increased nearly fourfold since 2011. This crisis is not unique to Long Island, it is ravaging communities across the state” said Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon. “This legislation will build upon the 2005 law I sponsored establishing the Opioid Overdoes Prevention Program by further expanding access to naloxone. This is a necessary step in fighting the drug crisis. Access to this opioid antidote will equip families and loved ones likely to discover an overdose victim with the ability to save their life. I urge the Governor to sign this legislation into law as soon as possible.”

Matt Curtis, policy director for VOCAL New York, said that “New York public health agencies already have a 10 year history of overdose prevention work, and for us this bill is a godsend. There is simply no better way to rapidly increase our ability to get naloxone and overdose education to those in need. That goes double for Upstate and Long Island communities, which have been under-served to date.”

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 legislation is an opportunity to expand access to this life-saving medication for those in need by making it easier for healthcare organizations to distribute naloxone through non-patient specific orders, and by allowing pharmacists to dispense directly to people at risk.

Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in New York. New evidence points to an increasing number of people transitioning from prescription painkillers to heroin, which is leading to greater overdose rates.

Over thirty leading community health organization in New York have endorsed the legislation. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently launched a complementary initiative to equip police around the state with naloxone. On a national level, US Attorney General Eric Holder also recently endorsed expanding naloxone access in response to the nation’s overdose crisis, joining the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the American Medical Association, and many other leading national and international organizations.

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Contact: Matt Curtis, 646-234-9062

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