Governor signs Queens lawmaker’s bill to co-prescribe overdose antidotes with opioid prescriptions

AM Braunstein Session Photo (1)
Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Braunstein’s office

Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein that would require the prescription of overdose antidotes alongside opioid prescriptions.

Bill A.336-A and its partner bill S.2966-A, sponsored by Senator Pete Harckham, would require medical professionals to co-prescribe opioid antagonists, like naloxone, with new opioid prescriptions when certain patient risk factors are present. The legislation passed both Houses with bipartisan support in the spring of 2021 and was signed into law on Dec. 29.

The purpose of naloxone hydrochloride is to block the effects of opioids and reverse overdose. The law would cover those with a history of overdose or patients who are prescribed a high dose or cumulative prescriptions resulting in 90 morphine milligram equivalents or more per day or who also use benzodiazepines.

“Over the last two years, as state and local governments fought to contain one public health epidemic, another has been quietly on the rise. Here in New York state, we have seen a significant increase in opioid overdoses, and we must use every tool at our disposal to address this growing crisis,” Braunstein said. “Increasing access to the lifesaving antidote naloxone is a low-cost and proven-effective way to educate patients, decrease emergency room admissions, and most importantly, save lives.”

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted the dire circumstances surrounding drugs in the country, with more than 100,000 people dying of overdoses in the United States from April 2020 to April 2021, the highest number ever recorded.

The data also showed that drug overdose deaths in New York state increased by about 37% year-over-year in the first eight months of 2020, with several other countries reporting similar spikes in overdose deaths.

“The opioid overdose epidemic that New York is experiencing right now necessitates residents statewide have greater access to an opioid antagonist so they can help save a life whenever possible,” said Senator Pete Harckham, chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. “Co-prescribing an opioid antagonist for certain at-risk individuals makes sense should an emergency arise, and I am grateful to Governor Hochul signing the bill into law.”

Other states that have successfully enacted similar laws include New Jersey, Vermont and New Mexico. The law is slated to take effect 180 days from the date it was signed into law.

“COMPA applauds Governor Kathy Hochul for signing A336-A/S2966-A, the naloxone co-prescribing bill,” said Allegra Schorr, president of the Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates of New York State (COMPA). “We commend the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, New York State Senate and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee Chair Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, for this important legislation. Access to naloxone is essential in stopping the surge in opioid overdoses. It’s a critical tool in an emergency. This bill guarantees that naloxone will be available for those at the highest risk of overdose.”