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Bloomberg Announces Rx Drug Crackdown

The NYC mayor's plan to limit Rx pain drugs in emergency rooms is met with heavy criticism.

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Bloomberg is willing to go to any lengths
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By McCarton Ackerman

01/14/13

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NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced his controversial new plan for combating the city's prescription drug "epidemic," saying patients who need painkillers may need to "suffer a little bit" in order to get the problem under control. The plan would severely restrict some of the common and powerful painkillers from emergency rooms in the city's 11 hospitals until further notice, and would limit patients' access to narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet. Long-lasting painkillers such as OxyContin would not be dispensed at all, and lost, stolen or destroyed prescriptions would not be refilled. "If you break a leg, you're going to be in pain, nothing wrong with getting something that reduces the pain," said Bloomberg. "But if you get 20 days worth of pills and you only need them three days, there's 17 days sitting there. Invariably some of the kids are going to find them, or you're going to take them and get addicted."

Critics have slammed the initiative by claiming it would penalize poor and uninsured patients who use the emergency room as their primary source of care. But Bloomberg countered that "there's no evidence of that," and, further, it would be a worthwhile price to pay to get the so-called epidemic under control. "Supposing it really is true, so you didn't get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit ... people are dying and there's nothing perfect," he said. "There's nothing that you can possibly do where somebody isn't going to suffer, and it's always the same group claiming, 'Everybody is heartless.' Come on, this is a very big problem." According to Bloomberg, more than 250,000 New Yorkers over the age of 12 are now addicted to prescription drugs, leading to an increase in violent pharmacy thefts. He believes the new initiative would also reduce excess drugs being taken out of medicine cabinets and sold on the street or abused by teenagers. Although private hospitals in NYC may still dispense painkillers as they see fit, Bloomberg is encouraging them to follow his protocol.

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