Press Release

Standing At Putnam Hospital Center, Senator Gillibrand Announces Bipartisan Legislation To Combat Opioid Crisis By Limiting Prescriptions To Seven Days

Jul 17, 2017

Carmel, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Putnam Hospital Center 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 this month that shows 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, 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.”

“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 tragic epidemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Opioid Addiction Prevention Act would target one of the root causes of the opioid addiction crisis, which is the over-prescription of these powerful and addictive drugs for acute pain. I am urging my colleagues in Congress to pass this measure to help curb the growing opioid crisis.” 

“Today marks a pivotal point in our continued fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic,” said New York State Senator Terrence Murphy. “New York’s passage of a 7-day limit for opioids is being recognized as a national model that Senator Gillibrand is carrying and bringing further attention to this devastating epidemic. Standing alongside Senator Gillibrand proves this is not about politics but saving the lives of vulnerable Americans. I thank her for her efforts and look forward to our continued partnership on this critically important issue.”

“Opioid abuse and addiction is a national epidemic we are not immune to here in Putnam. Sadly, we constantly hear about residents in our county succumbing to this dreadful disease,” said Putnam Hospital Center President Peter Kelly. “At Putnam Hospital Center, we are steadfast in our commitment to help patients find a path to recovery and wellness. Hosting Senator Gillibrand reinforces our efforts and is a welcoming addition to combat this scourge. We applaud her for her leadership in helping to fight this deadly plague.”

“On behalf of Drug Crisis in our Backyard we thank the Senator for this important legislation that will help to change the culture in the medical community relative to prescribing opioids for acute pain. The need to prevent future addiction is critical,” said Susan Salomone, Executive Director, Drug Crisis In Our Backyard.

“The true litmus test for how important an issue is to others is determined by how opposing sides come together and agree on a resolution,” said Patrice Wallace-Moore, LCSWR, Chief Executive Officer, Arms Acres, Inc. “The legislation proposed by US Democratic Senator Gillibrand (NY) and US Republican Senator McCain (Ariz) in the fight against the Opioid Epidemic in the United States is an example of that litmus test.  Limiting the accessibility to opioids for pain by prescribers to seven days is a necessary intervention in this fight which has resulted in an alarming increase in overdoses nationally, in NYS and locally right here in Putnam County.  As the CEO of a Drug and Alcohol IP and OP Treatment System, I am in full support of this legislation and the bipartisan efforts of these two Senators who clearly have their fingers on the pulse of our nation.”

“We appreciate the efforts Senator Gillibrand and Senate McCain in sponsoring this important legislation,” said Kristin McConnell, M.S., CPP-G, Executive Director, The Prevention Council of Putnam. “Our Putnam County Young Adult and Prevention Needs Assessment results tell us one of the main places teens and young adults get prescription drugs is the medicine cabinet. Any measures we can take to reduce access will help stem the tide of this epidemic.”

“Legislation such as this is vital to curbing the growth of the current opioid epidemic, and helping us to deliver on our commitment to the community to foster hope, wellness and recovery by addressing substance use issues….both through treatment and prevention,” said Diane E. Russo, CEO, Putnam Family & Community Services/CoveCare Center.

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. This legislation 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 Hudson Valley between 2004 and 2015, the number of prescription opioid-related deaths rose by over 1,300 percent, from 13 deaths in 2004 to 185 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 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 is 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 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.