A roundtable discussion convened in Albany by State Senators Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health, James Seward, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Insurance, Fred Akshar, George Amedore and Chris Jacobs, Chairs of the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, highlighted the need for a comprehensive statewide plan to increase access to naloxone as well as educate those suffering with heroin or opioid addiction of the services available to them. The Senators heard from the State Department of Health, pharmacies, insurers, manufacturers, physicians, addiction treatment providers, emergency medical professionals and first responders, on the complications of naloxone availability.
“Despite laws that have been on the books for years, reports about the inability to access naloxone continue,” stated Senator Hannon. “This drug crisis continues to plague many communities, which is why it is more important than ever that we ensure drug abusers, family and friends have easier access to be able to save loved ones from a tragic accidental overdose. Overdose deaths due to naloxone inaccessibility and cost impediments is unacceptable.”
The State Senate has worked tirelessly to secure funding to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs. The 2018-19 State Budget saw a major investment of $247 million to support services including more residential treatment beds, new methods of outreach and expanded peer support activities. In addition, numerous laws have been passed to fight abuse and provide recovery.
However, this week’s roundtable made clear that much more needs to be done to expand access and education initiatives to both those directly affected by the opioid epidemic and medical professionals. Some suggestions from the roundtable included ensuring comprehensive reporting regarding administration of naloxone, exploring availability of naloxone in schools and prisons, providing continued education for physicians and pharmacists regarding prescribing and distributing naloxone, and expanding peer-to-peer counseling services to encourage treatment.
A report and further recommendations will be developed and released in the coming weeks in response to the day’s proceedings.
Participants at the roundtable included the following:
- Valerie White, Deputy Director, NYS Department of Health, AIDS Institute
- Robert A. Kent, Esq., Chief Counsel, NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
- Thomas Fusco, Esq., Senior Attorney, NYS Department of Financial Services, Behavioral Health Bureau
- Robert Delagi, Director, Suffolk County EMS/SEMSCO member
- Peter Volkmann, MSW, Chief, Chatham Police Department
- Michael Dailey, M.D., Albany Medical Center/ Regional EMS Medical Director
- Frank Dowling, M.D., Psychiatrist/ Member, AMA Task Force on Opioid Abuse
- Silas Smith, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, NYU Langone
- Jeffrey Reynolds, Ph.D., CEO, Family and Children’s Assoc.
- Mike Duteau, R.Ph., President, Chain Pharmacy Association of NYS
- Kasey Lynn Gaeta, Esq., CVS Caremark Corp.
- Michael Vitali, Senior Director, Gov’t. Affairs, ADAPT Pharma
- Eric Linzer, CEO, New York Health Plan Association
- Sean Doolan, Esq., Hinman Straub. NYS Conference of BC/BS Plans