Governor Signs Braunstein-Harckham Bill to Co-Prescribe Lifesaving Overdose Antidote with Opioids

On December 29th, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law A.336-A/S.2966-A, requiring medical professionals to co-prescribe an opioid antagonist, such as naloxone, with new opioid prescriptions when certain patient risk factors are present.This legislation was sponsored by Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Senator Pete Harckham and passed both Houses with bipartisan support this spring.

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States from April 2020 to April 2021, which is the highest number ever recorded. In New York State, drug overdose deaths increased by an estimated 37% year-over-year in the first eight months of 2020, and several counties reported similar spikes in overdose deaths in 2020 and 2021. Opioid-related overdoses mainly drove these increases.

Naloxone hydrochloride acts to block the effects of opioids and reverse overdose. In an effort to increase its availability, the new law requires that naloxone be co-prescribed to patients with a history of overdose, or who are prescribed a high dose or cumulative prescriptions that result in 90 morphine milligram equivalents or more per day, or who concurrently use benzodiazepines. This critical policy change will not only help healthcare professionals educate patients on the dangers associated with opioid misuse, but also equip more New Yorkers to reverse an overdose they may witness or even experience.

“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.” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. “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. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law and Senator Harckham for his partnership on this critical issue.”

“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.”

"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.” 

“With a 40% increase in overdoses in NY since the onset of the pandemic, we must expand access to naloxone for all New Yorkers," said Amy Dorin, President & CEO, The Coalition for Behavioral Health. "Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing and to Assemblyman Braunstein and Senator Harckham for sponsoring this critical legislation, which provides life-saving medicine to those at a high risk of overdosing.” 

Several states have successfully enacted similar laws in recent years, including New Jersey, Vermont, and New Mexico, whose Department of Health reported a subsequent decline in prescription opioid overdose deaths. Groups endorsing the practice include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, American Pharmacist Association, New York State Association of County Health Officials and the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State.

The law will take effect 180 days from the date it was signed into law.