“There are more prescription drugs on our streets and in our homes than ever,” Senator Hannon said. “New York is experiencing an unprecedented fallout from the abuse of prescription drugs, including record numbers of overdoses, suicides, new addictions, and armed pharmacy robberies resulting in casualties.”
Release of the report follows Senate passage of a package of bills designed to curb the black market in prescription painkillers.“While my goal in issuing this report is to outline a comprehensive solution, I am open to additional ideas, suggestions and comments to develop the most effective plan,” Senator Hannon said. “In order to determine the best course of action, it is imperative that we have input from all affected parties.”
“There is no quick fix because the flaws in the current system feed into a growing crisis,” Senator Hannon said. “We must work together to strike a balance that recognizes the relief these pills give to people suffering from chronic illnesses, while also respecting the highly addictive and dangerous qualities associated with their misuse. Ultimately, this will require a sea change in the public perception of prescription painkillers.”
To explore further legislative means to address this issue, Senator Hannon opened the discussion on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse at his August 2011 roundtable.
A second public discussion was conducted this week. Stakeholders, including physicians, pharmacists, drug abuse prevention experts, and parents who lost children to prescription drug abuse, came together to discuss solutions to this crisis.
The report takes into account all information presented to the Senate Health Committee through the roundtables held on the subject, independent research, and information from stakeholders across the state.
In 2005, Senator Hannon sponsored a law that required the state Department of Health to establish an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. To strengthen state laws related to abuse of Opioids and other prescription painkillers, this week the Senate approved bills that would:
Place greater controls on Hydrocodone and Tramadol, highly addictive prescription pain medications (S.5880A, Senator Hannon);
Increase criminal penalties for physicians and pharmacists who illegally divert prescription drugs, which, in effect, punishes bad actors, protects consumers from compromised medications, and safeguards resources for the Medicaid program (S. 5260C, Senator Hannon);
Criminalize the illegal sale of a controlled substance by a practitioner or pharmacist to address practitioners operating “pill mills,” which fuel the black market for controlled substance medication (S.6066, Senator Hannon);
Criminalize the first-degree illegal sale of a controlled substance to a minor under the age of 14, making it a class A-II felony (S. 3210B, Senator Martins); and
Require the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) to post all administrative law decisions on their website within 30 days of decision to increase the efficiency and transparency of decisions concerning Medicaid fraud and abuse (S. 6271, Senator Hannon).
The Senate also adopted a resolution to declare April 28, 2012 Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in New York State to raise awareness about the importance of disposing excess medications. According to national data, nearly 70% of prescription pain medication abusers get their drugs from a family member or friend.