A bill that would require the state Department of Health to release an annual report that details all the registered opioid sales in New York was proposed this week by state Sen. Peter Harckham.
The measure is part of a broader effort to curtail opioid overdoses and deaths in the state, which have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, a concurrent public health crisis that policymakers have been urging state officials to address in recent months.
Harckham's proposal, more narrowly, is meant to comply with the provisions of the state budget in 2019 that created an Opioid Stewardship Fund. The fund is financed by an assessment on opioid products sold or distributed in New York.
Money from the fund is meant to support programs by the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports, including opioid treatment, recovery, prevention, education and the I-STOP program.
The budget provision was ultimately challenged in court by opioid manufacturers. A subsequent 2020 measure in the following state budget was meant to address the legal issues, but the assessment remains under a court challenge.
The fund was meant to include a requirement the state Department of Health gather reports on the registered opioid sales in New York. But that data has not been released.
“Right now, there is no public information regarding the annual opioid sales in New York that are supposed to finance, by law, the Opioid Stewardship Fund, and this new legislation will change that,” said Harckham, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. “We need greater transparency in areas like this to be able to gauge whether the law is being complied with, and whether the state’s treatment providers are getting the resources they deserve.”
Harckham's bill would require state health officials to publish the initial opioid sales report on its website with transaction data starting July 1, 2019, and each year going forward.