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Fentanyl-related deaths in the city spiked 310%, prompting new regulation bill, Cuomo says

Gov. Cuomo wants to add 11 new fentanyl

Gov. Cuomo wants to add 11 new fentanyl analogues to New York State's controlled substance schedule. Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images / Joe Amon

Gov. Andrew Cuomo implored the state Thursday to take action against specific painkillers that are contributing to the overdose crisis on Staten Island.

He revealed legislation that would add 11 fentanyl analogues to the state controlled substances schedule, making them illegal to sell. The city saw a 310 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths between 2015 and 2016, and the hardest hit borough was Staten Island. The number of fentanyl-related deaths on Staten Island went from seven to 58 during that time period, according to the governor.

“It’s 50 times more powerful than heroin. It’s 100 times more powerful than morphine,” Cuomo said. “To give you an idea of the potency of it, 30 milligrams of heroin can be a fatal dose. Three milligrams of fentanyl can be a fatal dose.”

Standard fentanyl is used medically for pain relief, anesthesia and palliative care. Although its standard variant is already on the state’s Schedule II controlled substance, making it illegal to sell without a prescription from a doctor, several underground labs have developed synthetic versions that are not regulated by the state.

“We are a dog chasing its tail. We want to end that,” Cuomo said.

The 11 substances Cuomo aims to add to the list are already on the federal schedule of controlled substances.

Cuomo said he has received support from several members of the state Legislature.

“Today’s announcement will bring forth a new measure to rid our streets of these poisons and empower New York’s law enforcement officers with the tools needed to go after the manufacturers and the dealers of these deadly drugs,” state Assemb. Michael Cusick (D-S.I.), who will introduce the Assembly version of the bill, said in a statement.

In addition to the legislative proposal, Cuomo ordered the Department of Financial Services to take action against insurers who issue limits on the number of lifesaving overdose-reversing drugs covered by an insurance plan.

“I’m not going to let young people die because an insurance company wants additional profit,” he said.

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