Staten Island painkiller overdose deaths rise 261%
Staten Island is the borough most struggling with prescription pill abuse, according to new city data.
The borough experienced the largest increase of prescription pill-related deaths in recent years, the Health Department reported Tuesday.
Citywide, between 2005 and 2011, overdose deaths from painkillers shot up by 65 percent.
But in Staten Island, painkiller overdose deaths increased a whopping 261 percent during the same time frame, data showed.
“Prescription opioid painkillers are out of control in our borough and taking far too many of our loved ones,” borough president James Molinaro said.
In the five boroughs, 220 people died in 2011, according to the city, including 40 Staten Island residents.
Between 2008 and 2011, the Health Department added, the number of painkiller prescriptions filled increased by 31 percent, and oxycodone accounted for more than half of those prescriptions. The largest increase in users was among New Yorkers ages 25 to 34, according to city data.
Earlier this year, the Mayor’s Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse suggested that emergency rooms should no longer hand out prescriptions for pills like oxycodone.
About 20 hospitals adopted this recommendation, according to the city.
The NYPD has also added GPS trackers to bottles in case pharmacies are robbed.
The city plans two conferences in June for Staten Island doctors and dentists next month to address addiction.
“Prescription opioids can be dangerous drugs,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. “They are chemically and biologically very similar to heroin and, like heroin, can lead to addiction and fatal overdose.”