May 17, 2016

Gillibrand Urges White House Office Of Drug Policy To Host Prevention & Treatment Forums To Combat Opioid Addiction In New York State

In 2014, nearly 19,000 people died in the U.S. from overdose related to opioid pain relievers; in the same year 2,300 people in New York died due to drug overdose

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to host community forums in New York State to discuss best practices and evidence-based initiatives to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Last year, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, announced that the White House will be hosting the community forums across the country to focus on initiatives that would end the opioid epidemic. Senator Gillibrand wrote to the director to schedule these open discussions in New York due to increasing opioid-related deaths in the state.

“I’ve traveled the state over the last few months meeting with families and medical professionals and it’s clear: the opioid crisis is widespread, it’s growing, and it’s not going to get any better unless we take action. In New York, our state, county, and local governments, as well as community groups, health care providers, and advocacy organizations, have taken significant steps to respond to the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I have met with individuals across the state who are committed to tackling this problem and I know they would welcome the opportunity to attend a forum on best practices and evidence-based initiatives to combat the crisis. The community forums hosted by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy would be another step in the right direction to help raise awareness and promote best practices in our communities throughout the state to help end this epidemic.”

Senator Gillibrand has been touring the state, meeting with families and medical professionals to discuss the opioid epidemic and her legislation to help curb it. In the last few weeks Senator Gillibrand has traveled to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton, the Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City to meet with families, health care providers, and community organizations. Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand introduced the bipartisan legislation 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. 

 

Full text of the Senator’s letter to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is included below:

 

Mr. Michael Botticelli 
Director 
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Director Botticelli,

Thank you for your ongoing work to address the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin use. I am pleased that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is hosting community forums across the country to facilitate discussions of best practices and evidence-based initiatives to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse and heroin use. I write today to respectfully request that your office host a series of such forums in my state of New York.

 

In 2014, nearly 19,000 people died in the United States from overdose related to opioid pain relievers and more than 10,000 deaths involved heroin. In New York, 2,300 people died in 2014 due to drug overdose. Nearly 2 million Americans abuse prescription opioids and nearly half a million more are addicted to heroin. This epidemic touches every community and it knows no boundaries. Between 2004 and 2013, opioid-related deaths across New York State increased dramatically:

 

  • In the Capital Region, opioid-related deaths increased by 410 percent from 10 to 51 deaths;
  • In Central New York, opioid-related deaths increased by 2,900 percent from 2 to 60 deaths;
  • In the Hudson Valley, opioid-related deaths increased by 981 percent from 16 to 173 deaths;
  • On Long Island, opioid-related deaths increased 297 percent from 60 to 238 deaths;
  • In New York City, opioid-related deaths increased by 106 percent from 223 to 460 deaths;
  • In the North Country, opioid-related deaths increased by 867 percent from 3 to 29 deaths;
  • In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, opioid-related deaths increased 556 percent from 9 to 59 deaths;
  • In the Southern Tier, opioid-related deaths increased by 1,550 percent from 2 to 33 deaths; and
  • In Western New York, opioid-related deaths increased by 594 percent from 16 to 111 deaths.

 

This year, I have heard from county departments of health across New York that the numbers of opioid-related deaths continue to climb at an astounding rate. The Upstate New York Poison Center (the Center), which assists the medical community and general public in 54 counties in New York with poison emergencies, is hearing from an increasing number of individuals with poisoning emergencies related to prescription opioids and heroin. In 2015, the Center received 2,601 phone calls with concerns related to prescription opioids and over 324 calls with concerns related to heroin. In just the first two months of 2016, the Center received 446 calls related to prescription opioids and 57 calls related to heroin.

 

In New York, our state, county, and local governments, as well as community groups, health care providers, and advocacy organizations, have taken significant steps to respond to the opioid epidemic. I have met with individuals across the state who are committed to tackling this problem and who would welcome the opportunity to attend a forum on best practices and evidence-based initiatives to do so. As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York State and across the country, we must work together to curb this crisis. Thank you for your consideration of hosting community forums in New York State, and I look forward to working together to raise awareness and advance policy to end this epidemic.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator