Governor takes new action against fentanyl
ALBANY--Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of new actions Thursday, Sept. 28 to combat the fentanyl crisis in communities across New York state. The governor will advance legislation to add 11 fentanyl analogs to the state controlled substances schedule, giving law enforcement the ability to go after the dealers who manufacture and sell. To further protect New Yorkers, the governor is also directing the New York State Department of Financial Services to take immediate action to advise insurers against placing arbitrary limits on the number of naloxone doses covered by an insurance plan.
In addition, Cuomo announced three men down state were arrested and charged in a federal indictment for drug trafficking conspiracy and drug trafficking. The arrests and charges that were made are part of a joint federal and state enforcement effort to combat the illegal sale of K2 in communities throughout New York--and resulted in the seizure of 1,000 packets of synthetic marijuana and its chemical analogues. In addition to the arrests, the state health commissioner is issuing orders to immediately close the establishment found to be selling these illegal substances.
Cuomo's remarks included the following statements:
"Today the State Police did a great piece of work on investigating a case dealing with the sale of K2. K2 has been a problem for the past several years. It's a relatively recent phenomenon. But it's dangerous. It started when I was attorney general. It's marketed to young people, as the superintendent said. It's marketed with names that make it sound cool and innocuous. Sold in bodegas and gas station stores and small grocery stores. It is synthetic marijuana. It's unchecked. It comes from places unknown. It is dangerous in and of itself. And the behavior that it causes is erratic and dangerous, not just to the individual and the people round them, but also to law enforcement. So we've been battling it for a few years. The state police did a case where they did extraordinary investigative work. They turned it over to the feds who are doing the actual prosecution. The Suffolk county police did a great job working with them.
The department of health is here today because they're going to close down that store. They'll close it down today for the sale of the illegal drugs. And that comes under the health law.
We also have a new threat, besides K2. Because what's happening now is in the world of synthetic drugs, they constantly create a new drug compound. So, K2 was basically synthetic marijuana--we dealt with that for a number of years--and now we have synthetic fentanyl. Fentanyl is a prescription pain reliever that you can get legally. They've taken fentanyl and they now synthetically produce fentanyl and cut fentanyl with heroin, with crack cocaine, and it is a potent, potent killer....Just to give you an idea, three milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person, where it takes 30 milligrams of heroin. So, it gives you an idea of the potency of synthetic fentanyl.
There are 11 derivatives--11 analogs--of fentanyl that we now know of that are manufactured. I want to propose to the state legislature that they make those synthetic derivatives of fentanyl what's call Schedule I drugs. They are drugs. They should be punished as drugs. They are selling these. Law enforcement needs a tool to be able to lock up the offender and that's what the Schedule I drug law does and I urge the legislature to pass it.
Also, this drug is so powerful that the anti-overdose medication that they prescribe, called naloxone--they need five times more naloxone to bring back a person from a fentanyl overdose than they do from a heroin overdose. Just think about that. Five times more of the same drug. We've run into a situation where insurance companies won't reimburse law enforcement, hospitals, EMS for the additional doses of naloxone, which means law enforcement is faced with a dilemma. If they don't administer a drug, the person dies. If they do, they don't get reimbursed for it. We're going to put out what's called a 'circular' today--a regulation requiring all insurance companies that do business in the state of New York to pay the fair amount of naloxone to bring back lives of people treated with synthetic fentanyl. The drug scourge seems like it's been with us forever. But it ebbs and it flows. It is at an all-time high right now. The number of deaths in the U.S. from drug overdoses. 64,000 last year.
To give you an idea of what 64,000 means, it's more people than died at the peak of HIV. It's more people than at the peak year of gun violence. It's more people who died in the Vietnam War, Afghanistan War and Iraq War combined. That's how many people we're losing to drugs."