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NYC outlines plan to fight opioid crisis

As the number of opioid deaths in New York City increases, Mayor Bill de Blasio has outlined a plan to fight back. Above, de Blasio, first lady Chirlane McCray and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, right, announce the launch of the new initiative. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

“It’s all about reaching people who have not been reached,” de Blasio said.

As the number of opioid  deaths in New York City increases, Mayor Bill de Blasio has outlined a plan to fight back. Above, de Blasio, first lady Chirlane McCray and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, right, announce the launch of the new initiative.
As the number of opioid deaths in New York City increases, Mayor Bill de Blasio has outlined a plan to fight back. Above, de Blasio, first lady Chirlane McCray and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, right, announce the launch of the new initiative. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

The city is putting the power to fight an increasing number of opioid deaths in the hands of its citizens.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will provide 100,000 kits with the anti-overdose drug naloxone to pharmacies, nonprofits, hospitals and the NYPD. Last year, 1,075 New Yorkers died of opioid ODs, a nearly 43% jump from 2015, according to the Health Department.

De Blasio said “HealingNYC” will reduce opioid overdose deaths by 35% over the next five years.

“It’s all about reaching people who have not been reached,” he said Monday at a news conference at Lincoln hospital in the Bronx, which has seen a high rate of overdose deaths.

The drug is already offered over the counter in 750 city pharmacies.

First lady Chirlane McCray, who is also leading the “HealingNYC” campaign, said civilian access to naloxone, which costs about $50 a dose, would be a key factor in reducing deaths as parents would be able to purchase a kit from their drugstore and receive training on how to use it during an emergency.

“You don’t have to be an expert … to use naloxone,” she said.

NYPD officers have already been receiving the kits and were able to save 51 people last year and 17 this year, according to Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

The $38 million-a-year initiative’s other programs will create mental health clinics in high-need schools, connect more New Yorkers to medication-assisted treatment, and increase police crackdown on illegal opioids.

De Blasio took aim at the pharmaceutical industry for contributing to the epidemic by encouraging the use of painkillers. “We have a reality where people get addicted to heroin because they were hooked on a painkiller,” he said.

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