Buffalo, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited Save the Michaels of the World, Inc. in Buffalo to push for funding to combat the opioid epidemic and support prescription drug monitoring programs that help prevent opioid abuse and prescription fraud. Gillibrand was joined by U.S. Representative Brian Higgins, New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, and community leaders. The Senate is expected to vote on the Opioid Crisis Response Act this week, a major legislative package that would create new programs and funding streams to prevent and respond to the opioid epidemic.
The Opioid Crisis Response Act is a new legislative package that reauthorizes and improves existing programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and creates new programs and funding opportunities to support federal, state, and local efforts to prevent and respond to the opioid crisis. Gillibrand has been fighting for the package to include language and funding to support programs in New York State and across the country that help prevent opioid abuse and prescription fraud, such as the I-STOP Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) used in New York State.
“New York State has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and Congress should be doing everything it can to help our communities fight back against this crisis and prevent abuse of these highly addictive drugs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As the Senate prepares to vote on a major legislative package that could deliver millions of dollars in resources to our local communities, I’m fighting to pass provisions to help support and fund Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs like I-STOP that help prevent abuse and prescription fraud, and I’m working to ensure that this legislation gives towns and cities across New York the federal funding they need to support their work to combat the opioid epidemic.”
“The Opioid epidemic is a national crisis that warrants a serious and comprehensive national response,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Communities like Erie County, with the support of tireless advocates, including the families involved in Save the Michaels of the World, whose lives have been personally touched by addiction, have been leaders in addressing this issue. This federal legislation will provide the additional resources necessary as we continue efforts to make progress in this fight.”
“New York has continued to step up to support critical opioid monitoring, treatment, and prevention programs, as well as incredible support organizations like Save the Michaels, who go above and beyond for families whose loved ones find themselves dependent on these drugs. Now, it’s time for the rest of the country to do the same,” said New York State Senator Kennedy. “I echo Senator Gillibrand’s call for a collaborative approach to address this crisis nationwide, and I urge the Senate to do right by all Americans facing this devastating epidemic.”
“Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs like I-STOP have proven to be one of the most effective tools in preventing prescription opioid abuse. Senator Gillibrand’s Legislation will go a long way towards strengthening the interstate drug monitoring program to further reduce ‘doctor shopping’ and interstate drug trafficking,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Commissioner of Health, Erie County Department of Health.
The Opioid Crisis Response Act would provide federal assistance and funding to states to improve their PDMPs to encourage the sharing of data between states and implement other prevention strategies that have proven to be effective in combatting the opioid epidemic. New York’s drug monitoring program, I-STOP, has been in effect since 2013 and has helped reduce “doctor-shopping”— when people go to multiple doctors to get prescriptions for opioid pills or any other controlled substance — by 90 percent. As of March 2018, New York is currently sharing with and receiving prescription drug monitoring data from 25 states and the District of Columbia. Gillibrand fought for the Opioid Crisis Response Act to provide critical support for New York and other states to expand prescription drug monitoring, which is crucial to combatting the opioid crisis and plays a critical role in helping to improve opioid and clinical prescribing practices, protect at-risk patients, and prevent fraud.
The Opioid Crisis Response Act that Gillibrand is fighting to pass would do the following:
- Improve Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs by
o Providing new federal support for states and localities to improve their PDMPs in order to improve data-sharing and implement other evidence-based prevention strategies related to controlled substances.
o Reauthorizing a grant program at HHS, which provides funding to states to develop, maintain, or improve PDMPs.
- Support Prescribing Limits by
o Directing HHS and the Attorney General of the United States (AG) to conduct a study on the effect of federal and state laws and regulations that limit the length, quantity, or dosage of opioid prescriptions.
o Directing the HHS Secretary and the AG to create a plan to educate and train medical practitioners on best practices for prescribing controlled substances.
- Reauthorize the Following Programs:
- Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Program
- DFC is a grant program administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that works to prevent youth substance abuse and reduce the demand for illicit narcotics at a community level.
- High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA):
- HIDTA provides funding for federal, state, and local task forces to improve intelligence-sharing initiatives, support drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives, and provide assistance to law enforcement to reduce drug trafficking.
- Drug Court Program:
- The Drug Court Programs provide offenders with substance abuse and mental health services with rehabilitation, screening services, and monitoring by the judicial system as an alternative to traditional incarceration.