Heroin Task Force calls for statewide NARCAN registry

Terrence Murphy

January 15, 2016

ALBANY, NY - Following the announcement by the New York State Department of Health that naloxone will be available over-the-counter at CVS pharmacies throughout New York State, co-chairs of the Senate's Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, Senators George Amedore, Terrence Murphy, and Robert Ortt are calling on Governor Cuomo to create a statewide registry of naloxone distribution, as well as usage and overdose reversals.

The increased use and availability of naloxone has decreased the number of deaths from heroin and opioid overdose, but the epidemic still remains a big problem for so many communities throughout the State. A statewide database would ensure that accurate numbers on overdoses continue be reported.

"We must take every step necessary to eradicate New York of the heroin epidemic. By collecting more accurate data through our proposed Narcan registry we can help ensure the needed resources are being sent to those communities facing the greatest scourge. This will help make enforcement more efficient and ultimately save lives. It is this type of outside the box thinking that is needed for our continued effort to win the war on addiction," Senator Terrence Murphy said.

"Narcan has proven to be a valuable tool by averting overdoses. Increasing Narcan's availability is a positive step that will save lives, but we must accompany this with other critical measures. One area that I believe we must prioritize is tracking Narcan use so that we can get users the help they need. As co-chairs of the heroin task force, we recognize that our approach to tackling the heroin and opioid epidemic must be as comprehensive as the epidemic itself. Measures to increase prevention, treatment, and recovery - coupled with strict prosecution of those bringing these drugs into our communities - will bring our families and communities the relief they need," Senator Ortt said.

"There is no doubt that narcan is saving lives in communities all across New York State. It's important that it be readily available for those who need it, but we need to recognize that it is a band-aid and not a true fix for the epidemic that is facing our communities," said Senator Amedore, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. "It's important to understand that while the statistics may show overdose deaths on the decline with this new policy, we need to have accurate information on how many overdose deaths have been prevented through the use of naloxone so we can get people the treatment they need, or direct resources into the communities that need it most. A statewide registry that includes the number of reversals and where they occurred will continue to provide us with important information as we continue our efforts help those who are struggling with addiction."

Under the proposal, the number of narcan kits sold over-the-counter, distributed through non-profits, or provided to emergency responders would be inventoried upon dispersal. When a kit is used, EMT's, law enforcement officials, and medical personnel would be required to report it.

The purpose of the registry would strictly be for data collection purposes to keep track of the number of kits dispersed, and the number of kits used. Patients' identities would not be reported.