opioid crisis

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to impose a tax on manufacturers of prescription opioids to help pay for state programs that assist people who are addicted to them. But some say it will be patients who ultimately will have to pay the price.

Cuomo laid out the opioid tax proposal in his state budget address nearly two months ago, saying it’s only fair that the makers of the pain pills shoulder some of the financial burden of treating people who became addicted to the medicines.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against pharmaceutical companies and others for their part in the continuing opioid crisis.

The county is accusing drug companies and distributors of painkillers made from opioids of downplaying the risks of those kinds of drugs that have fueled a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. Onondaga County in particular has been hit hard by the epidemic, with the number of opioid-related deaths tripling since 2012. 

County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the county bears a cost from this suffering on a couple of fronts.

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One of the new sources of revenue included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed executive budget is an opioid epidemic surcharge. The 2 cent tax per milligram of active opioid ingredient on pills would be levied on drug manufacturers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors are getting behind a statewide initiative meant to raise awareness about local substance abuse services. The idea behind “United to Fight It: Preventing Substance Abuse” is to get community leaders together with substance abuse coalitions and plaster the community with the information that can help anyone in the midst of addiction get well.


As the opioid crisis continues across the region, there have been a number of efforts to combat drug use. But some have been more successful than others.

Back in March, Farnham Family Services in Oswego partnered with the Oswego City Police Department for the Rapid Evaluation For Appropriate Placement -- or REAP -- initiative. The program allows addicts to turn themselves and their drugs in to city police, with the guarantee that they won't be arrested as long as they complete a treatment evaluation with Farnham within five days.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Local substance use clinics in central New York are reacting to President Donald Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. Some officials said there are real solutions the federal government can do to save lives.

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As the opioid epidemic continues across upstate New York, Naxalone, known by its brand name as Narcan, has become a critical component in stopping overdoses. The Upstate New York Poison Center is trying to drive that point home at the New York State Fair.

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The Onondaga County Legislature is in the process of hiring legal counsel to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors over the costs of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Some legislators say opioid manufacturers lied about the addictive nature of their products.

Although they do not have a number yet, Onondaga County Legislative Chairman Ryan McMahon said whatever amount they end up suing opioid manufacturers for will never be enough.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The continuing opioid crisis in central New York is forcing one Syracuse-area agency to expand services. The expansion will allow ACR Health to serve more individuals addicted to opioids in its Drug Users Health Hub.

Alexandra Punch is ACR Health’s first Director of Drug User Health. She says expanding existing services is a direct result of an opioid crisis that seems to be here to stay.

“It’s a huge problem and we’re seeing that it’s not going away,” said Punch. “And what we’re also seeing is the amount of individuals that are learning about buprenorphine treatment."