In response to Long Island’s ongoing battle with heroin and prescription opioid drug abuse, lawmakers and community advocates are experimenting with a variety of treatment and legislative efforts. Among the latest is a proposed measure by lawmakers in Albany to further regulate the amount of prescription opioids to which even legitimate patients would have access. The bill would restrict the amount of prescription opioids a patient could get after their initial visit to their physician’s office, limiting supply of drugs like oxycodone hydrocodone to five days before they can go back for more. Proponents claim that this would go a long way to curb the ready supply of unused pills for sale and theft.
The bill is sponsored by democratic assemblyman and licensed professional pharmacist, John McDonald, and has the full support of New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers executive director John Coppola. Coppola claims that the problem begins and ends with physician education and accountability. Skeptics, however, are claiming the measure limits physicians’ ability to exercise their best judgment, and the Medical Society of New York has gone so far as to call the five-day rule “arbitrary” and saying that the limits are not based on any scientific evidence or protocol.
The prescription opioid crisis in Long Island is very well documented. Opioid-related ER cases in New York have increased 73 percent form 2010-2014 and are responsible for hundreds of deaths each year. In many cases, these drugs lead to heroin addiction when pills become scarce or too expensive. While Governor Cuomo has not publicly taken a position on the newly introduced bill, he has clearly stated his intentions to reduce, and preferably eradicate abuse of these drugs within New York’s borders. At a recent meeting right here in Long Island with his anti-addiction task force, he pledged to offer a comprehensive plan to combat this public health crisis by today (June 1).