Opioid Abuse and Addiction: Ten Point Plan of Action

Opioid abuse and addiction continue to ravage communities throughout New York and across the nation. In 2016, nearly 9 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in New York State. That year, there were 3,086 deaths from opioid-related overdoses in New York -- 2,399 of which were the result of opioid painkillers. Nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1999, prescribed opioids alone claimed the lives of 200,000 Americans. To put this in perspective, the fatalities in 2016 were five times greater than in 1999. In addition to the tragic loss of life, New York bears the considerable cost of paying for unnecessary opioid prescriptions as well as the extraordinary costs for recovery and treatment. In counties from Richmond (Staten Island) to Dutchess, the crisis affects every corner of our state.   

New York must take on opioids the same way it took on Big Tobacco in the 1990s. Like Big Tobacco, opioid manufacturers have knowingly misrepresented the devastating risks associated with opioid use and deliberately marketed medications known to cause addiction for decades. These companies created and funded so-called “expert” foundations and not-for-profits to promote the use of opioids and oppose common-sense regulations. They retained key opinion leaders in the medical profession who misled the general public and health care providers alike.

As Attorney General, I will implement a multi-faceted strategy to address this crisis. I will appoint a dedicated Special Counsel to coordinate efforts to address opioid and other substance abuse epidemics in our communities and hold accountable those who would improperly profit from these devastating addictions.

In the coming pages, I have outlined the details of my ten point plan:

  • Broaden existing litigation to hold marketers, distributors, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies and their executives legally responsible for the harm they have caused;  

  • Target “pill mills” and medical professionals who mislead the public about the dangers of opioid addiction;

  • Address conflicts of interest by eliminating financial incentives for prescribing drugs and mandating training;

  • Use the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate and pursue claims of Medicaid fraud and abuse by pharmaceutical companies;

  • Direct the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force to pursue criminal conduct that supports the opioid epidemic;  

  • Pursue claims against those who defraud people trying to overcome addiction with unproven drugs, treatments, and practices;

  • Ensure that corporations do not engage in price-gouging and other anti-competitive practices;  

  • Support expanding access to Naloxone;  

  • Ensure that settlements include penalties that reflect responsibility to victims and lead to the expansion of proper drug treatment facilities;

    Defend New York’s Opioid Stewardship Act from attacks by the pharmaceutical industry.

    Read my full plan to combat this crisis here: https://bit.ly/2NxZd6j