Coalition Endorses Schneiderman's I-STOP Plan To Address Rx Drug Crisis Plaguing Long Island

LI Law Enforcement, Elected Officials, Medical Professionals, Community Members Announce Support For A.G.’s Online, Real Time Database To Track Prescription Narcotics

Groundbreaking “I-STOP” Legislation Would Crack Down On Abuses Like ‘Doc-Shopping’ And Rx Forgeries

Prescriptions For Oxycodone Skyrocketing In Nassau County, Up 42% Since 2008


MINEOLA — Amid Long Island’s growing prescription drug epidemic, a coalition of law enforcement, elected officials, medical professionals and community members joined forces to urge the passage of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP) plan for an online database that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track certain controlled substances in real time. Today’s endorsement of I-STOP, announced at a press conference at the Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence in Mineola, follows the release of a recent report by the Attorney General detailing the growing prescription drug abuse crisis in every corner of New York State. Statewide, the number of prescriptions for all narcotic painkillers has increased by six million, from 16.6 million in 2007 to nearly 22.5 million in 2010.

“Long Island is at the center of the state’s prescription drug epidemic, and it’s time to take action before another tragedy strikes. The law enforcement officials, medical professionals and community members on the ground – who see the devastation of this crisis firsthand – stand united to protect our communities by supporting I-STOP,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Inaction is not an option. The time is now to streamline communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who need help.”

According to the Attorney General’s recent report, the prescription drug crisis is particularly acute on Long Island where drug-related violent crimes – including the horrific pharmacy murders in Seaford and Medford in 2011, overdoses, and drug treatment admissions have increased at an alarming rate.

  • In Nassau and Suffolk counties, crisis drug treatment admissions increased 57 percent and 40 percent from 2007 to 2010.
  • Non-crisis admissions increased by almost 70 percent in Nassau County, and by nearly 80 percent in Suffolk County over the same time period.
  • At the same time, the number of deaths due to the toxic effects of prescription opioids more than tripled in Nassau County.
  • Since 2006, Oxycodone has contributed to more deaths than any other prescription opioid in Nassau County, and prescriptions for Oxycodone increased 42 percent from 2008 to 2010. Suffolk County experienced a 23 percent increase in Oxycodone prescriptions during the period.

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano said, "Attorney General Schneiderman’s I-STOP plan gives stakeholders the tools necessary to protect the public from the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Together, we can and will better coordinate health care services so that patients receive the medication they need and those who profit off of abuse receive the justice they deserve. This is the right solution to Long Island’s prescription drug epidemic, and Attorney General Schneiderman deserves credit for tackling this crisis head on."
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice said, “The Attorney General’s I-STOP plan will help law enforcement and the medical community combat prescription drug abuse to prevent tragedies from happening in the future on Long Island and across the state. There is no good reason to deny doctors and pharmacists the ability to make controlled substance dispensing decisions on an immediate and real-time basis. To protect the public, we look forward to working with the Attorney General to combat this epidemic together.”

Dr. Tom Jan, Physician at Massapequa Pain Management, said, “One American dies every 19 minutes from a prescription medication. In an effort to relieve the suffering of pain we in the medical community have opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed an epidemic. We can rein in the beast but it will take a commitment on our part in time and dedication. We may not have much time in our day but those of us in the medical community do have the dedication necessary to fight this and I am calling on all my colleagues to support Attorney General Schneiderman’s I-STOP proposal. It will mean a little effort on our part for a tremendous benefit to our community."

Dr. Jeff Reynolds, Executive Director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, said, “Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic that demands attention now - not next year or the year after. Most agree that the current prescription monitoring system is outdated, seldom updated and woefully under-utilized. It isn't working. Attorney General Schneiderman's I-STOP legislation will fix our outdated prescription monitoring system so that doctors and pharmacists can better treat our patients and be part of the solution to this crisis. As this problem worsens by the day and the overdose fatalities rise, are no more excuses for inaction.”

Jordan Fogel, Pharmacist at Linden Care, said, “The recent spate of violent pharmacy robberies has been a wake-up call. We cannot afford to wait for another tragedy to do something about this crisis --we need a comprehensive plan to tackle this problem now that will link the needs of patients, doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement. The Attorney General's I-STOP plan to create a real-time prescription tracking database is the foundation for this simple, modern and comprehensive approach."

Today’s announcement comes in the wake of endorsements for the Attorney General’s I-STOP bill from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as a bipartisan coalition of 24 U.S. Representatives from across New York State, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, New York State Association of PBA's, and the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, Inc. Support in the state Legislature for I-STOP is growing as well, with 33 Senate and 48 Assembly sponsors signed on to the bill, including lead sponsors Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and Assemblymember Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island).

Earlier this month, Attorney General Schneiderman launched a new website, “Share Your I-STOP Story,” that showcases personal stories from New Yorkers who have been impacted by the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. As momentum builds for legislative action, the site urges doctors, pharmacists, addiction sufferers and their family members to put a human face on the problem, and help persuade state lawmakers to pass I-STOP.

I-STOP will vastly enhance the effectiveness of the present system. Its goal is to enable doctors and pharmacists to provide prescription pain medications, and other controlled substances, to patients who truly need them. At the same time, it will arm them with the necessary data to detect potentially dangerous drug interactions, identify patterns of abuse by patients, doctors and pharmacists, help those who suffer from crippling addictions and prevent potential addiction before it starts. Prescription drug monitoring programs operate in 43 states.

A copy of the Attorney General’s report on prescription drug abuse is available online at: Click Here

The Attorney General’s “Share Your I-STOP Story” website is online at: