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The New York Academy of Medicine Encourages Governor Cuomo to Sign Life-saving Overdose Prevention Bill

New Law Can Save Lives by Increasing Access to Safe Antidote Drug Naloxone

NEW YORK—The New York Academy of Medicine encourages Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law a bill that will increase access to naloxone (Narcan), a life-saving antidote that can prevent deaths related to heroin overdose. The state Assembly and Senate both unanimously passed the bill (S6477/A8637).

Overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in New York. From 2010 to 2012, heroin-involved deaths increased 71% from 3.1 to 5.3 per 100,000 and in 2012 had a higher rate than overdose deaths involving any other substance (NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene).

“Overdose from heroin and other opioids is a critical public health issue that cannot be ignored,” said Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, NYAM President. “We can save lives by increasing the availability of a safe, effective overdose antidote to people in a position to take action in case of an overdose.”

If signed into law, the bill will allow family members and friends of drug users to acquire naloxone through pharmacies, and will also make it available to community-based programs that provide services to drug users. The bill recognizes that naloxone has no harmful side effects and that there is no public health or safety risk to its distribution.

This legislation is consistent with the recommendations in the 2013 report “Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy,” co-authored by NYAM and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The report recommends that New York State broaden efforts to prevent overdose, including through naloxone distribution to people who use opioids.

NYAM health policy experts are available for interviews regarding this critical overdose prevention legislation and drug policy reform in New York State.

About The New York Academy of Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine advances the health of people in cities.
An independent organization since 1847, NYAM addresses the health challenges facing the world’s urban populations through interdisciplinary approaches to policy leadership, innovative research, evaluation, education, and community engagement. Drawing on the expertise of diverse partners worldwide and more than 2,000 elected Fellows from across the professions, our current priorities are to create environments in cities that support healthy aging; to strengthen systems that prevent disease and promote the public’s health; to eliminate health disparities; and to preserve and promote the heritage of medicine and public health.

Posted on June 17, 2014

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Gina Ravosa
Director of Marketing & Communications
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
(212) 822-7285

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