The city plans to release the number of overdose deaths on a quarterly basis in an effort to focus public awareness on the opioid epidemic, according to Health Department officials.
There were 364 confirmed drug overdose deaths in New York City between April and June, bringing the total to 711 so far in 2017, according to the first update of the city’s HealingNYC, a $38 million initiative to battle the epidemic.
“New York City is working hard to address the opioid epidemic, and keeping close tabs of its deadly toll is critical for everyone working on drug overdose prevention,” said city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, noting the Health Department is one of the first to release drug overdose data on a quarterly basis.
Those statistics had previously been released on an annual basis.
Bassett said under HealingNYC, 45,000 naloxone kits, which reverse overdoses, have been distributed so far this year and more than 400 clinicians have been trained to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction.
“We need all New Yorkers to know the risks associated with opioid use, to help us fight stigma, and to learn how to support family and friends struggling with addiction,” she said.
Officials said about 1,300 people died in New York City due to overdoses in 2016 – the highest on record. They estimate about 80 percent were opioid related. And the number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased. It accounted for about half of all overdose deaths in the second half of 2016, according to the Health Department.