Press Release

As Opioid & Heroin Related Deaths In New York Continue To Climb, Senator Gillibrand & Congresswoman Slaughter Urge Passage Of Bipartisan Legislation To Fight Opioid Epidemic

Mar 11, 2016

Rochester, N.Y. – As opioid and heroin related deaths in New York continue to climb, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) along with families and advocates are calling on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to help end the opioid epidemic. Senator Gillibrand introduced the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act and Congresswoman Slaughter will introduce the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The bill would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidelines for the safe prescribing of opioids for the treatment of acute pain. The CDC is currently only focused on guidelines for opioids prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain. Acute pain includes pain following a broken bone, wisdom tooth extraction, or other surgeries, whereas chronic pain is long-term pain that can last weeks, months, or years.

According to the most recent data from the New York State Department of Health, opioid related deaths in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region increased by over 550 percent from 9 in 2004 to 59 deaths in 2013. 51 people die each day in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids according to the CDC, nearly five times the number in 1999. Between 1999 and 2010, there was a 400% increase in sales of prescription opioid pain relievers in the United States. However, in that same period, there was no increase in the amount of pain Americans reported, according to the CDC.


“As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York and across the country, we can’t wait any longer to take action and curb this growing crisis,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Part of this epidemic can be attributed to some medical providers over-prescribing opioids. When someone gets a tooth out and only needs medication for three days – why are they sent home from the doctor’s office with 30 Percocet? We have introduced bipartisan legislation that will help fix this problem by requiring the CDC to issue clear guidelines to help medical providers safely prescribe opioids for these common types of acute pain. I am urging my colleagues in Congress to pass this measure to help curb the growing opioid crisis.”


“I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this issue. Families in the Rochester area and all across the country are being torn apart by opioid addiction. This is a national epidemic and we need Congress to act quickly to combat it. A key part of that is requiring the CDC to issue clear guidelines for the prescribing of opioids to treat acute pain, the kind that follows a broken bone or surgery. We need to ensure these powerful medications are used safely while cutting down on the risk that extra pills could lead to possible abuse,” said Congresswoman Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress.


“Trillium Health shares Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Slaughter’s concern for the health of individuals in our community, and across the state and nation. We applaud them both for their leadership to preventing opioid dependence. In our neighborhood health center, we see the struggle of our patients who are dependent every day. Our integrated primary care model works hand in hand with our behavioral wellness and substance abuse recovery services provided by our partnership with Huther Doyle to help our patients. But more needs to be done to prevent dependence to begin with,” said Andrea DeMeo, CEO of Trillium Health.


The Facts On the Growing Opioid Epidemic:


  • Nearly 2 million Americans abuse or are addicted to prescription opioids, and nearly half a million more are addicted to heroin according to SAMHSA.


  • In 2014, nearly 19,000 people died in the United States from overdose related to opioid pain relievers, nearly five times the number in 1999 according to CDC.


  • The increase in opioid addiction is linked to an increase in opioid prescriptions. Between 1999 and 2010, there was a 400% increase in sales of prescription opioid pain relievers in the U.S. Over the same time period, there has not been an increased in the amount of pain Americans report according to CDC.


  • In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills according to CDC.


  • Teenagers who receive an opioid prescription by 12th grade are 33% more likely to abuse opioids after high school. The risk for opioid abuse is even higher among teenagers who report little to no previous use of illicit substances according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.



  • In a paper published by the American Dental Association in 2011, 64% of dentists surveyed preferred prescribing hydrocodone with acetaminophen for a third molar extraction, for an average of 20 pills per prescription.
  • 4 in 5 individuals who use heroin report prior abuse of prescription opioids, according to SAMHSA.