JAMESTOWN – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was in Jamestown on Monday to share details of the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, a proposed piece of bipartisan legislation that would limit the amount of prescription opioids a physician can prescribe to treat acute pain. The bill, cosponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and modeled after New York State law, would limit the supply of an initial opioid prescription for acute pain to seven days.
According to Sen. Gillibrand, many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain, such as a broken bone or wisdom tooth extraction. If enacted, the proposed legislation 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.
Gillibrand said the legislation is an effort to help reduce the amount pain medication that is given to the public, as well as to help reduce the number of people who become addicted to opioids.
“We know that one of the main sources that is fueling the addiction epidemic is the over-prescription of opioids like percocet, vicodin, and oxycontin for acute, short-term pain,” Gillibrand said. “Every year we have thousands of men and women going in for routine treatments that require more than a small dose of pain medication and they’re leaving with far more medicine than they need. And then they become addicted, or they give the extra pills to a friend or family member who misuses the medication, or they leave it in their medicine cabinet where a younger person may see it and steal it and bring it to a party.”
Gillibrand added that the seven-day 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 Senator made her comments at the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County, which has seen an increase in the number of people who come through its doors seeking help to battle addiction.
“In 2017 we’ve had 8500 visits and of these, 411 separate individuals have received peer services,” Said MHA executive director Kia Briggs. “The MHA Has assisted 359 gaining access to treatment or medical services, 67 gaining employment, and seven enrolling in college, 13 gaining their GED, and 130 gaining stable housing. We know that addiction is complex matter and appreciate that our community has come together to make real change in the way that people are treated and parity toward gaining access for treatment.”
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.”
According to Gillibrand, the number of prescription opioid-related deaths rose by over 1,600 percent in Western New York between 2005 and 2015.