Lowville, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited the Credo Community Center & Mountain View Prevention Services in Lewis County to announce the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation to crack down on one of the most dangerous root causes of the opioid addiction crisis: the over-prescription of opioids for patients with short-term, acute pain. The bill, modeled after New York State law, would limit the supply of an initial opioid prescription for acute pain to seven days. Many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain, such as a broken bone or wisdom tooth extraction. The Opioid Addiction Prevention Act would require medical professionals to certify, as part of their DEA registration, that they will not prescribe an opioid as an initial treatment for acute pain in an amount that exceeds a seven-day supply, and may not provide a refill as part of that initial prescription.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data last month that show that the over-prescription of opioids continues to be a serious public health problem in the United States. While the overall amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. decreased between 2010 and 2015, the amount prescribed in 2015 was still three times as high as the amount prescribed in 1999. In response to this latest report, former CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat said the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was enough “for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.”
“The bipartisan Opioid Addiction Prevention Act would target one of the root causes of the opioid addiction crisis, which is the over-prescription of powerful and addictive opioid drugs for acute pain,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Too many lives have been destroyed, too many families have been torn apart, and too many communities all over New York are suffering because of this epidemic. This fight is urgent, and I will do everything I can in the Senate to pass this bill.”
Under current federal law, a medical professional must register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in order to be allowed to prescribe a controlled substance in the United States. This registration must be renewed every three years. The Opioid Addiction Prevention Act would require medical professionals to certify, as part of their DEA registration, that they will not prescribe a schedule II, III, or IV opioid as an initial treatment for acute pain in an amount that exceeds a seven-day supply, and may not provide a refill as part of that initial prescription.
This limit does not apply to the treatment of chronic pain, pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice or other end-of-life care, pain treated as part of palliative care, or addiction treatment.
The Facts on the Growing Opioid Epidemic:
- In the North Country, between 2004 and 2015, the number of prescription opioid-related deaths rose by over 1,800 percent, from two deaths in 2004 to 39 deaths in 2015, based on data from the New York State Department of Health.
- In 2015, more than 15,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to opioid pain relievers – over 3.5 times the number in 1999, according to CDC.
- In 2015, 2.1 million more Americans started misusing prescription opioids, including 415,000 adolescents and 596,000 young adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Every day, roughly 3,000 more young people misused a prescription opioid for the first time.
- Nearly 2 million Americans abuse or are addicted to prescription opioids, and nearly half a million more are addicted to heroin, according to SAMHSA.
- The increase in opioid addiction is linked to an increase in opioid prescriptions. The amount of opioid prescriptions in 2015 was three times as high as the amount of opioid prescription in 1999, 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 percent 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.
- Over half of people aged 12 and older who misused prescription pain relievers in the last year obtained the opioids from a friend or family member. Over one-third obtained the opioids from a doctor, according to SAMHSA.
- In a paper published by the American Dental Association in 2011, 64 percent of dentists surveyed preferred prescribing the opioid hydrocodone with acetaminophen for patients to use as needed after a wisdom tooth removal, a procedure common in young adulthood. The average prescription was for 20 pills.
- 4 in 5 individuals who use heroin report prior abuse of prescription opioids, according to SAMHSA.