Binghamton, N.Y. – As opioid and heroin related deaths in New York continue to climb, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 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, legislation that 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 recently finalized 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 Southern Tier have increased by over 1,500 percent from 2 deaths in 2004 to 33 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? I’ve 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 am very happy to see Senator Gillibrand and other elected officials do something about what I believe many times leads to addiction,” said Penning Stringfield, Mother and Advocate.
“I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her support of the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act,” said Michele Napolitano, Executive Director of Fairview Recovery Services. “Like the rest of the state and country we have seen a huge increase in opioid and heroin addiction. We hear the same story over and over from our clients; they started using these substances through prescription pain medications. This legislation will do so much to help the battle we are fighting.”
“I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in sponsoring the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act. In so doing, she is taking decisive action to stem the flow of opioid based analgesic into our communities,” said Alan Wilmarth, Administrative Director for Behavioral Health at UHS. “This week the CDC published guidelines on the use of opioid based analgesics in the management of chronic pain. These guidelines are receiving considerable attention across the nation. While a wonderful step in the right direction, we do not yet have formal CDC guidelines for the management of acute pain. I believe Senator Gillibrand’s bill addresses this gap.”
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.
- Of teenagers who abuse opioids, roughly half obtained the opioids from a friend of family member, according to research by 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