Health Department Launches Opioid "Detailing" Campaign in Brooklyn to Promote Judicious Prescribing, Reduce Opioid Misuse and Overdose

The Health Department will visit approximately 1,000 Brooklyn health care providers and staff

Brooklyn had 277 overdose deaths in 2016, the second highest number of all boroughs according to provisional mortality data

May 4, 2017 — As part of the HealingNYC plan to reduce drug overdose deaths, the Health Department today announced the launch of a “detailing” campaign — one-on-one visits with clinicians — in Brooklyn for the judicious prescribing of opioids. The goal is to educate clinicians on prescribing opioids less often, for shorter durations and at lower doses. In addition, the campaign will advise doctors not to prescribe opioids in conjunction with benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Klonopin or Valium), as the combination leads to an increased risk of overdose. The Health Department will visit approximately 1,000 Brooklyn health care providers and staff in Coney Island-Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst-Bay Ridge, the neighborhoods with the highest rates of opioid painkiller overdose deaths in Brooklyn. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett kicked off the detailing campaign today at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island with Grand Rounds, a lecture to clinicians about judicious opioid prescribing.

“Opioid overdose and misuse is preventable, and educating physicians in high-risk areas about judicious prescribing is a key strategy in the City’s effort to fight this deadly epidemic,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “In New York City, the epidemic disproportionately affects certain neighborhoods. We must work together to provide resources and support all communities who are dealing with addiction.”

“The opioid crisis has many battle fronts, and a key to the prevention of addiction is the more thoughtful prescription of opioids,” said Stanley Brezenoff, interim president and chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “The education of front-line providers and the commitment of our staff will both make a difference. We welcome the partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Dr. Bassett in particular, in leading prescription practice change in New York.”

"We must not underestimate the vital role that clinicians and health care providers play in combating our borough's ongoing epidemic with opioid addiction and misuse,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Judicious prescribing practices are a critical component of our comprehensive 'all-in' strategy of care and support."

"Thank you DOHMH for re-affirming once again their dedication to ending the opioid abuse epidemic. We find far too often that individuals are prescribed these drugs not understanding what effects they may have — so physicians are forced to treat patients with other means, said State Senator Diane J. Savino. “By working together to change prescribing patterns on a consistent basis, we can effectively combat this rampant crisis."

“As a member of the State Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, I want to thank the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their dedication and efforts to make a difference in the war on prescription drugs and heroin,” said State Senator Martin J. Golden. “The heroin and Opioid epidemic is destroying lives, families, our communities, our city and our State. Therefore, it is vitally important we educate and caution clinicians on prescribing dangerous opioids. Equally, important is providing life-saving naloxone kits to police, community groups and individuals in order to save people from life threatening overdoses. As we know the opioid epidemic does not discriminate against race, religion or economic status and only by working together can we save our loved ones from its deadly grip.”

“Judicious prescribing is an important step in fighting the alarming opioid epidemic in New York City,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “We need to be proactive about prevention methods. I applaud the Health Department for working directly with health care providers throughout the city to reduce opioid misuse and overdose.”

"As former Chair of the Assembly's Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, I know the terrible toll that opioid addiction has taken on our communities and families,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz. “This initiative will offer valuable support to some of our most affected communities that will potentially reverse the trend of addiction and, most important, save lives."

“The opioid epidemic in our neighborhoods is a tragedy where many times the addiction could be prevented,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate. “My colleagues in the New York Assembly have fought to fund many programs to stem the tide of addiction and I am grateful that the NYC Department of Health will be coming into the communities that have been plagued by opioid abuse to educate and promote awareness to medical professionals about different techniques and ways to prevent opioid abuse.”

The detailing campaign, which includes one-on-one visits with clinicians, will be conducted from May to June over an eight-week period. The purpose is to encourage providers to change their prescribing patterns to prevent New Yorkers from misusing opioids.

In 2016, more than 1,300 people in New York City died from a drug overdose, the highest year on record; 80 percent of these deaths involved an opioid, including prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine) and heroin. Overdose deaths in New York City have gone up for six consecutive years, mainly driven by an increase in fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and can be mixed with heroin, cocaine, and illicit opioid painkillers without the knowledge of the person using the drug. Brooklyn had 277 overdose deaths in 2016, the second highest number of all boroughs, following the Bronx at 279 overdose deaths.

About HealingNYC
HealingNYC is a comprehensive, citywide response to disrupt the opioid crisis and save lives. The City will distribute 100,000 naloxone kits to community-based organizations, all NYPD patrol officers and City shelters. In order to prevent more deaths and address risky opioid use, the City will educate clinicians to judiciously prescribe opioids, invest in early interventions for youth, expand crisis intervention services for nonfatal overdose and connect high-risk communities with targeted prevention messages and care. The City will also help connect an additional 20,000 New Yorkers living with opioid use disorder to medication-assisted treatment by 2022 and reduce the supply of dangerous opioids. HealingNYC will fund the public education campaign for an additional two years through June 2019. You can learn more about HealingNYC here.

For more information on opioids and overdose prevention, visit



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