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Limit the amount of prescription opiates by doctors, officials urge

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and activists called on Congress Friday, March 18, 2016, to pass legislation requiring federal standards to help limit the amount of opiates doctors prescribe for acute pain. (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas called on Congress Friday to pass legislation requiring federal standards to help limit the amount of opiates doctors prescribe for acute pain.

“There are no comprehensive guidelines to tell that doctor or dentist how much medication they can safely prescribe without putting the patient at risk for addiction,” said Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Both officials said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently adopted guidelines for chronic pain, should also issue guidelines for acute pain. Chronic pain is long-term pain, such as from arthritis, that is difficult to ease, while acute pain is short-term pain, such as that suffered from a broken bone or a burn.

When someone breaks a wrist or has a wisdom tooth extracted, they need pain medicine for only a couple of days, Gillibrand said. “So why are they leaving the doctor’s office with a 30-day supply?” she asked.

“Opiate addiction in our state is severe. It’s growing, and it’s not going to end unless all of us raise our voices and take action on the root causes of the epidemic,” Gillibrand said at a news conference at the Yes Community Counseling Center in Massapequa.

“The stakes are far too high to ignore. Last year alone in communities across our country, including many right here on Long Island, 1.4 million Americans started abusing prescription opiates,” she said.

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‘Every day 51 more people are killed by an overdose of prescription painkiller. Right here on Long Island, between 2004 and 2013, the number of prescription opiate-related deaths rose by 300 spercent,” she said.

Gillibrand said she has introduced a bill, the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act, that would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue guidelines for the safe prescribing of opioids for the treatment of acute pain.

“We know that one of the main causes of opioid addiction is the overprescription of opioids ... It’s time for Congress to act,” Gillibrand said.

Singas, also a Democrat, said it’s time to “ take control” of the prescription of opioids.

“Let’s make sure that our children are not getting addicted by the very doctors who are supposed to be helping them through whatever pain they’re having,” Singas said.

State Assemb. Joseph Saladino, a Republican who represents the Massapequa area, also showed his support by attending.

Dr. Brian Durkin, a pain specialist from Port Jefferson, said at he supports the legislation, as well as better training for health providers.

“Most physicians, most dentists — believe it or not — have no formal training,” Durkin said. “They learned how to prescribe these pain medications from the person who’s a year ahead of them in the training program, and that’s what they go on to do for the rest of their careers.”

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