New York State Department of Health Receives $995,000 In Federal Funds to Combat Prescription Drug Overdose and Abuse

More than $2.2 million in funding received from CDC in 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 9, 2016) - The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) announced today that the Department has received a supplemental grant of $995,000 annually for three years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help combat the opioid epidemic. The funding comes on the heels of a $1.2 million grant received in March that will continue until August 2019.

"Prescription opioid addiction and the overdose deaths that have resulted from this epidemic are a major public health problem that needs urgent attention," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "These funds will enable the state to develop the programs and policies we need to put an end to this scourge."

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the rate of opioid abuse, increase substance abuse treatment and lower the drug overdose rate for all types of opioids, including heroin. To achieve those goals, the CDC funding will be used to increase access to buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction, and naloxone, which is used to reverse an opioid overdose. Increasing access to buprenorphine and naloxone were recommendations made by the Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Heroin and Opioid Task Force in a report released in June. The funds will also be used to spur collaborations in communities impacted by opioids and enhance existing technologies to track patient usage of opioids.

A key component in the fight to combat opioid addiction is making buprenorphine more available by certifying more practitioners to prescribe this life-saving drug. To expand access to buprenorphine, NYSDOH will create a mentoring program that provides guidance to physicians who have recently been certified to prescribe buprenorphine, and expand the number and variety of targeted settings for buprenorphine access. In addition, the NYSDOH will implement a buprenorphine academic detailing project to provide face-to-face information to physicians who want to prescribe buprenorphine, and offer training and education to nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants on prescribing buprenorphine.

This new funding will also examine the impact of training first responders to use and provide naloxone, a front line response to the epidemic that is used by first responders, law enforcement, individuals, and family members to reverse an overdose. The CDC funds will be used to improve access to naloxone, with plans to increase the number and geographic diversity of entities trained and registered to provide the life-saving drug. Currently, more than 100,000 responders have been trained by the state's more than 300 registered opioid overdose programs.

In addition, the NYSDOH's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement will work to improve the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP) by:

  • Working to integrate the PMP directly with patient electronic health records. Since 1972, New York has had a PMP, which contains data on all Schedule II, III, IV and V controlled substance prescriptions dispensed by State-licensed pharmacies and dispensing practitioners;
  • Developing app-like functions for providers using portable devices such as smartphones and tablets;
  • Using data collected from the PMP to conduct public health surveillance to help improve outreach efforts.

Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez said, "Through the Governor's Heroin Task Force, we heard from New Yorkers across the state that more medication-assisted treatment is needed and that more community members need access to the overdose reversal medication naloxone. This additional federal funding will enable us to expand MAT and naloxone trainings across the state and give more New Yorkers the opportunity to engage in treatment for substance use disorder and begin a path toward recovery from the disease of addiction."

Nationwide, the use of prescription opioids has soared, along with the number of overdose deaths related to these drugs. According to the CDC, prescription opioid sales in the U.S. increased by 300 percent between 1999 and 2013. Since 2000, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin) has risen 200 percent. In 2014, 61 percent (28,647) of all drug overdose deaths (47,055) in the U.S. involved some kind of opioid, including heroin.

New York has one of the lowest rates of opioid deaths in the nation. According to the most recent available data from the NYSDOH, New York had 1,535 drug overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics and heroin in 2014. Based on data from the CDC, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in New York in 2014 was 11.3 per 100,000 persons, which was lower than the national rate of 14.7.