NY Senate passes 17 opioid bills

By FRITZ MAYER
Posted 2/13/20

ALBANY, NY — The New York Senate passed 17 bills on February 4 meant to help in the state’s battle against opioid addiction. State Sen. Jen Metzger co-sponsored 13 of the …

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NY Senate passes 17 opioid bills

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ALBANY, NY — The New York Senate passed 17 bills on February 4 meant to help in the state’s battle against opioid addiction. State Sen. Jen Metzger co-sponsored 13 of the bills.

“Our work is in no way done, but we have taken an important step forward in this fight,” said Metzger. “The communities I represent have been deeply affected by the opioid crisis, with Ulster, Sullivan, Orange and Delaware counties all facing staggering opioid-related death rates that far exceed the state average. There is no doubt that the package of opioid legislation passed will  save lives.”

New York now tracks all opioid prescriptions in the state, and Metzger’s bill will use that data to target pill mills. “The Department of Health has data at its disposal to track flagrant overprescribing of opioids, and the legislation I’ve introduced as part of this package will give the department a valuable tool to crack down on this illegal practice and help prevent addiction and its devastating consequences,” said Metzger.

Metzger was also a co-sponsor of 11 of the other bills. Two of them regard the expansion of education and training of healthcare professionals on how to respond to people suffering from substance use disorder (SUD) and special training to doctors and others who prescribe controlled substances.

Some of the other measures passed were discussed at a press conference. Sen. David Carlucci said there are now forms of opioids that are less prone to abuse. When a person crushes a pill to inject or ingest the resulting powder, the opioid is no longer viable. But, Carlucci said, many insurance companies will not cover them. Legislation he sponsored would address that by preventing insurance companies from switching to a traditional opioid pill when an abuse-deterrent pill is prescribed.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Pete Harckham, who sponsored several of the bills, would require prescribers to include prescriptions for an opioid antagonist—such as Narcan—with the patient’s first opioid prescription of the year. At the press conference, Harckham said the number one barrier to effective treatment continues to be the stigma attached to addiction.

Sen. Gustavo Rivera also spoke at the press conference. “Addiction is not a moral failure, so therefore it should not be treated as a crime. It is a public health issue,” he said. His bill would allow people to request that a prescription be partially filled, without losing access to the remainder of the prescription.

Jawanza William, an organizer with the advocacy organization Vocal NY also spoke and said, “We have to have universal access for medication-assisted treatment; we have to pass overdose-prevention centers across the state.”

Angela Robinson, whose son Stephen died from an overdose, said the purpose of a law named after her son was to ensure that people with SUD or mental health issues have a choice to appoint a family member or a delegate to share information during their treatment, either in-patient or outpatient.

“The delegate or family member would be notified immediately in a case of an identified emergency, by that I mean an overdose, missed appointment, a positive tox screen,” Robinson said. “It is imperative [that] admission patients are given the understanding that this will and can save their life.”

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