June 13, 2017

Senator Fred Erick J. Akshar, II
805 Legislative Office Bulidng
Albany, NY 12247

Re: Senate Bill 5949 and Senate Bill 5670

Dear Senator Akshar:

We are writing to you to express our concerns with the above-referenced legislation.  While we applaud the efforts of the Legislature generally to respond to the heroin and opioid abuse crisis in this state, we are concerned that these specific proposals will go beyond addressing the crisis and have the effect of discouraging physicians from addressing their patients’ legitimate pain needs. 

To begin with please be aware of MSSNY’s and the New York physician community’s efforts to respond to this crisis.  MSSNY is a member of the American Medical Association Opioid Task Force and is working with the AMA, national medical organizations, and other state medical societies across the country to end the opioid epidemic.   We are beginning to see the results of these efforts.  According to the AMA Opioid Task Force, every state in the nation saw a decrease in opioid prescriptions beginning from 2012 to 2016!   Specific to New York, since enactment of the ISTOP law in 2012, there has been a 13% decrease in opioid prescribing during 2013-16.    New York physicians and other health care professionals used the state Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) more than 51 million times between 2014-2016 – by far the most in the nation!  

Furthermore, due to changes in state laws, New York State has also seen an increase in medicated assistance therapy and enhanced use of naloxone by physicians, other health care providers and the community at large.   As you are also aware, in 2016, the New York State Legislature also required mandatory education for pain management, palliative care and addiction for every prescriber who is licensed under Title Eight of the Education Law and who holds a DEA license, to complete a course by July 2, 2017, and every three years after that.   To date the Medical Society has educated thousands of physicians on Pain Management, Palliative Care and Addiction, and tens of thousands of physicians across the state have taken similar courses.