NYC Leaders Voice Support for AG's HealNY Tour & Funds to Combat Opioid Crisis

Reference: Office of the New York State Attorney General's press release dated October 4, 2021

New York City Leaders Voice Support for Attorney General James’ ‘HealNY’ Statewide Tour, Delivering Funds to Combat Opioid Crisis

Elected Officials and Advocates Across New York City Praise AG James’ Continued Efforts to Deliver Funds for Opioid Abatement to Five Boroughs

 NYS AG Opioid Funds

Photo credit: Office of the New York State Attorney General

(October 4, 2021 - New York, NY) - After New York Attorney General Letitia James began her statewide ‘HealNY’ tour today and started delivering the first of up to $1.5 billion to combat the opioid epidemic, elected officials and community leaders across New York City came out and expressed their support for her work delivering funds to the five boroughs.

“In the United States, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death, with opioids being involved in nearly two-thirds of overdose deaths,” said U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler. “And the numbers of Americans killed by the opioid epidemic over the past two decades is a staggering 800,000 people. The effort to hold corporations accountable for the opioid epidemic has been led by the states, counties, tribes, and cities hit hardest by the crisis. Attorney General James has been one of the most vocal leaders around the country doing this work. I applaud her tenacious leadership in holding corporations accountable for the thousands of lives lost to the opioid epidemic. Most importantly, this funding from the settlement will enable us to better serve impacted individuals and prevent future opioid abuse.”

“Big Pharma helped unleash the opioid epidemic on America, incentivizing doctors to unnecessarily prescribe highly addictive drugs in an environment with too little oversight,” said U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries. “Millions of lives were ruined, and countless families and neighborhoods suffered unimaginable pain. I thank New York Attorney General Letitia James for her work to fight the pharmaceutical companies in the courtroom and then return the money directly to the communities that have been hit the hardest.”

“Families across New York and the nation faced unprecedented challenges over the past nearly two years. The opioid crisis devastated families across our region and touched far too many lives,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Here in New York City, the rate of fatal overdoses reached an all-time high during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s time to reverse this course and help families recover and get their lives back on track. I am proud to join Attorney General James as part of today’s effort to help families heal and to help our communities and our state overcome the opioid epidemic, once and for all.”

“It is appropriate and important that these settlements funds be invested directly in communities affected by the opioid crisis by supporting treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts,” said U.S. Representative Nicole Malliotakis. “We appreciate the attorney general’s commitment to ensuring that is exactly what happens.”

“On Easter morning of this year, one of my constituents, 15-year-old Olivia Green, died due to fentanyl overdose. Every year this epidemic rages on and claims thousands of lives in my district and across the state — lives that are precious and which must be saved,” said U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman. “The opioid epidemic is a health crisis, a mental illness crisis, a hopelessness crisis. It must be addressed through health care and community care solutions — not incarceration, punishment, and endless cycles of cruelty. I’m incredibly grateful to join Attorney General James as she delivers the first of up to $1.5 billion to combat the opioid epidemic, and for her hard work to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid crisis accountable.”

“As communities across New York state continue to reel from the negligent actions of opioid manufacturers and distributors, Attorney General James' efforts to hold them accountable will go a long way to help those still struggling with substance use,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, chair, New York state Health Committee. “I am grateful for her partnership in creating the opioid settlement fund, which will ensure funds received go directly towards substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services. While this will not bring back those who we have lost to this devastating crisis, it will help the process of healing and recovery.”

“The opioid epidemic is not over,” said State Senator Luis Sepulveda. “Earlier this year, the CDC released a report stating that over 93,000 people in the U.S. — an average of about 250 people a day — died of a drug overdose in 2020. I applaud New York Attorney General Letitia James on ‘HealNY.’ The attorney general has gathered up to $1.5 billion from settlements and litigation. These funds will go directly to communities devastated by the opioid epidemic, straight to our constituents that need it the most. Together, we can heal New York.”

“The Bronx has one of the highest opioid overdose death rates in the entire city, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “Opioid manufacturers and distributors have played a major role in enabling this nationwide epidemic, and I am grateful to Attorney General James for standing up against these companies and fighting for those affected. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Office of the Attorney General, New York will be receiving up to $1.5 billion to address the opioid epidemic. These funds will allow us to assist the communities who have been devastated the most by this crisis and put our state on a path to recovery.”

“When a company's reckless actions place New Yorkers' health and safety at risk, it is our responsibility to use every tool at our disposal to hold those companies accountable,” said State Senator Zellnor Myrie. “I'm grateful to the attorney general for her work to stem the tide of opioid addiction in our state and ensure that pharmaceutical companies know they cannot act with impunity. Together, we can continue ensuring harmful and dangerous products are appropriately regulated here in New York.”

“Countless lives have been lost or shattered by opioid addiction as a direct result of corporate pharmaceutical greed,” said State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. “These settlements help restore the communities most effected and deter this kind of illegal, corrupt, and immoral behavior at the highest level. They are yet another example of how our attorney general, Tish James, is acting as watchdog for the people of New York. I am grateful for her hard work.”

“The opioid crisis has devastated many communities in New York, including here in the Bronx,” said State Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “Thanks to Attorney General James' incredible work to secure more than a billion dollars in settlement money from opioid manufacturers and distributors our communities will have better access to support services so that people can recover from addiction and get their lives back together. I am proud to celebrate today's first delivery of resources to Lincoln Hospital here in the Bronx, and look forward to more great work stemming from the opioid settlement fund and Attorney General James.”

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the opioid epidemic in the United States, resulting in a record breaking number of overdose deaths across the nation this past year,” said State Assemblymember Edward Braunstein. “I applaud Attorney General James for holding these pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors accountable and for ensuring that all settlement funds are dedicated to combat the opioid crisis in New York.”

“We are still living in an opioid crisis that reverts back to the 90s when drugs were part of low-income communities like mine, costing the lives of far too many people and tarnishing our local communities,” said State Assemblymember Maritza Davila. “During my early days in the New York state Assembly, my colleagues and I fought to address opioid drug abuse by providing adequate funding for prevention, recovery, and treatment services. Although the problem still persists, we continue to fight. Thanks to Attorney General Tish James for holding accountable the pharmaceutical companies responsible for this epidemic and ensuring that up to $1.5 billion will be used to combat this crisis and will be invested in our communities.”

“I am grateful to Attorney General James for her leadership on securing $1.5 billion dollars to combat the opioid epidemic,” said State Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi. “Nothing can undo the damage wrought or bring back the lives we've lost to this epidemic. However, this is a step toward accountability, and the investment in our communities who have been particularly affected will go a long way in mitigating this harm and preventing further loss of life.”

“Today marks an important step in healing our communities from the devastation of the opioid epidemic,” said State Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “While the decades-long ‘War on Drugs’ targeted poor and working class people of color, major pharmaceutical corporations made billions in profits, pushing addictive and deadly opioids without a shred of accountability. Thanks to the leadership of Attorney General James, that is now finally starting to change.”

“Attorney General James’ settlements with some of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the country send a message to the nation that New York was taking the opioid epidemic seriously,” said State Assemblymember Karines Reyes. “Now, during her ‘HealNY’ tour, Attorney General James is delivering these funds to areas most affected by the epidemic. The Bronx, which has had some of the highest rates of opioid overdose-related deaths in the city, has also struggled greatly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income communities of color did not get the support that they needed in a time of crisis, but that changes today. I am proud to have worked on this issue in the Legislature and am grateful to have a partner like Attorney General James, who delivers when our borough is in need.”

“Opioid addiction is a national epidemic,” said State Assemblymember Kenny Burgos. “It’s had tragic results among young people across the Bronx. I commend Attorney General James for her tireless efforts to combat this crisis, as well as for holding the responsible pharmaceutical companies accountable.”

“The opioid crisis has devastated our communities for far too long,” said State Assemblymember Catalina Cruz. “While drug abuse is a complex issue, it is time that the pharmaceutical companies — that have profited hand over fist while New York state families have suffered — are finally held accountable. I am honored to stand by Attorney General James and thank her for her tireless dedication and commitment to improving the lives of all New Yorkers.”

“The ongoing opioid crisis has plagued our nation and our borough for many years,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I commend New York Attorney General James for taking action through her ‘HealNY’ tour, and delivering funds that will play a key role in fighting this scourge facing our most vulnerable communities.”

“The opioid crisis has caused untold devastation and loss in our city — and no community has been spared,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Here in Kings County, the rate of deaths has thankfully fallen according to the most recently available data, thanks to proactive steps we've taken, including hosting of a series of boroughwide, free overdose prevention trainings that teach Brooklynites how to administer naloxone. I thank Attorney General James for her office's work to hold the perpetrators of this terrible epidemic accountable, and to ensure the settlement money from her lawsuits goes toward impacted communities.”

“The opioid epidemic has caused an unimaginable amount of harm and heartbreak in Queens and throughout our country,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The settlements that Attorney General James negotiated with some of the companies responsible for the epidemic will go a long way toward healing the pain and suffering this crisis has inflicted on our communities. The attorney general should be commended for her diligence and determination in her efforts to secure justice for opioid victims and their families.”

“The opioid epidemic continues to be a major public health crisis in New York City and, as our city’s public health resources are strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to utilize every available resource to combat this epidemic,” said New York City Councilmember Mark Levine, chair, Committee on Health. “The $1.5 billion in funds negotiated in settlements initiated by Attorney General James will save lives and will give New York City desperately needed resources to prevent overdoses and get people effective treatment. I want to thank Attorney General James for her fearless work on this life-and-death issue, and for using her powers to hold these corporations accountable for their role in creating and propagating this public health crisis.”

“Far too many lives have been cut short because of the opioid epidemic,” said New York City Councilmember Stephen Levin. “I applaud Attorney General Tish James for her leadership on this issue and for her tenacity in seeking justice for those impacted by opioids, while also ensuring that the responsible parties pay their fair share to undo some of the harm that has been caused. While this is an important first step, there is much more work to be done to reverse the impacts of the opioid epidemic.”

“In 2018, District 8 had the highest overdose death rate in New York City,” said New York City Councilmember Diana Ayala. “The opioid crisis continues to have a devastating impact in our communities, and addressing this epidemic in a holistic, humane, and responsible way has always been a priority for me. I am grateful to Attorney General Letitia James for securing a $1.5 billion settlement to combat the damaging effects the opioid crisis has had in our communities. The funds from these settlements will go a long way in rebuilding, educating, and assisting individuals on a path toward healing for themselves and their families.”

“For years, the substance use disorder and mass incarceration resulting from the opioid crisis has ravaged Black and brown communities,” said New York City Councilmember Farah N. Louis, chair, Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions. “Instead of expanding access to life-changing recovery treatments, families were torn apart with disproportionate prison sentences. ‘HealNY’ is a turning point in a decades-long battle to right an injustice that has affected generations. Today marks a new beginning that will support rather than criminalize New Yorkers who need supportive services to get back on track.”

“We highly commend New York Attorney General Letitia James on her national leadership and undaunting fight against those responsible for the opioid epidemic across this nation,” said Dr. Cheryl Anthony, CEO, Judah International Christian Center, Inc. “Her courageous battle and victory will bring needed information, support, and resources to BIPOC communities. Judah International Christian Center, Inc. and Women of Faith Advocating for Change stand in partnership with her to assist and support marginalized communities that are disproportionately impacted by this epidemic. As it is stated in Matthew 25:40: ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

“SACHR is proud to stand today to honor the groundbreaking accomplishment that Attorney General Tish James has achieved in delivering such monumental settlements against the makers and purveyors of opiates that have, for too long, ravaged our communities, especially poor communities of color,” said Joyce Rivera, CEO, St. Ann's Corner Harm Reduction (SACHR). “The settlements that she has negotiated will allow these communities to begin to heal, and under her leadership, we are excited that we may finally be able to turn the corner in solving some of the most intractable problems associated with drug misuse.”

“I applaud Attorney General James for her extraordinary success in negotiating a historic $1.5 billion opioid settlement for the state of New York,” said Mitchell Netburn, president and CEO, Samaritan Daytop Village, one of New York State's largest behavioral health services providers. “Every day we witness the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic on individuals, their families, and the communities throughout the 10 counties we serve. This crisis is worsening every day, so I also applaud Attorney General James for rapidly distributing these funds to organizations that can help turn the tide of this horrific epidemic — we do not have a second to lose.”

“The opioid epidemic has had a tragic impact on Americans of every background,” said Rabbi Yaacov Behrman, director, Operation Survival. “In my own community, when we sit down to dinner on Shabbos, there are empty seats at too many tables — each, a life cut short by these deadly drugs. We are so grateful to Attorney General James for her leadership, not just in New York state, but nationally, in shining a light on the crisis, seeking accountability from the companies responsible, and investing in an opioid-free future for families.”

“The evidence is overwhelming: As a result of discrimination, rejection, bullying, and social stigma, LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely as other adults to misuse opioids,” said Floyd Rumohr, CEO, Brooklyn Community Pride Center. “As Brooklyn's first and only LGBTQ+ community center, we can affirm that these negative social environments and the opioid misuse reaction continues to exist even in New York City, especially among the BIPOC populations we serve in central, eastern, and southern Brooklyn. We are delighted that Attorney General Tish James has worked to secure settlements from the makers of commonly misused drugs in the LGBTQ+ community, like Vicodin, Percocet, Fentanyl, and OxyContin, and we hope that a significant portion of these funds will be allocated to helping LGBTQ+ people recover and develop healthier ways of dealing with social and familial stressors.”

“For too long, New Yorkers have suffered under the weight of the opioid epidemic in our communities and families,” said Ryan Thoresen Carson, executive director, NO OD NY. “For years, Big Pharma got away with lying to New Yorkers who were already suffering from chronic pain. When they needed medical care, many were instead peddled a dangerous and addictive drug. This summer, I walked over 500 miles to meet New Yorkers directly impacted by this negligence, people who had lost the people most important to them or had nearly lost their own lives. Nothing will ever be able to make things right for the thousands of New Yorkers who have struggled or even died due to the criminal behavior of many of our largest corporations. Personally, I will never forgive these corporations for what they have done to my family and friends. NO OD NY is proud to stand with Attorney General James as she announces that the settlement funds from her historic lawsuit will go to abatement efforts in communities particularly impacted by this epidemic. When we have already lost so many, we can’t afford to lose one more.”