New York Considers Distributing Fentanyl Test Kits Alongside Narcan to Combat Overdoses


New York State is poised to take a significant step in combating fentanyl-related deaths, but the final decision rests with Governor Kathy Hochul. Earlier this spring, the state Assembly and Senate passed a bill that would require fentanyl test strips and information on their use to be included in opioid antagonist kits, such as Narcan, as part of overdose prevention programs.

However, the legislation has remained unsigned for two months, according to the office of the bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Senator Monica R. Martinez. Martinez’s spokesman, Seth Squicciarino, stated that the legislation “hasn’t yet been signed by the governor.” The bill aims to complement existing initiatives aimed at eradicating the fentanyl crisis and move the state closer to achieving its goal of reducing overdose deaths.

Fentanyl has claimed the lives of roughly 17 New Yorkers each day in 2022, resulting in a total of 6,300 resident deaths. The substance is the leading cause of death among adults aged 18 to 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Martinez’s bill differs from “Matthew’s Law,” legislation signed into law last year that allows fentanyl test strips to be sold in retail stores. Instead, Martinez’s bill seeks to boost “harm reduction” efforts by providing fentanyl test strips in Narcan kits distributed by the state.

The bill requires the state health department to include fentanyl test strips in its Narcan kits, which could potentially lower the number of people who overdose. New York is set to receive over $2 billion in settlement agreements from a lawsuit filed against opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, with a portion of the funds going toward harm reduction efforts, such as fentanyl test kits.

Deputy Patrick Craven, lead detective of a newly formed opioid response team in Placer County, California, highlighted the challenge of getting fentanyl test strips into the public’s hands, noting that the entire pill or powder must be tested, not just part of it.

New York City has already made fentanyl test strips available in four of its five boroughs, while the state legislature’s session has ended, leaving Hochul until the end of the year to sign the bill. If signed, the legislation would take effect 90 days after signing. Martinez emphasized the importance of providing fentanyl test strips, stating that they “empower individuals to make informed decisions about their safety and well-being.”

Anna Giaritelli
Anna Giaritelli
Anna Giaritelli focuses on homeland security, immigration, and border issues. Anna has traveled to the border on more than 40 occasions since 2018 and has covered human smuggling, the evolution of the war on drugs, domestic terrorism, and migration trends. She is currently based in Austin, Texas.

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