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Schumer lauds deal with China to curb flow of fentanyl into U.S.

By Howard B. Owens
sen. charles schumer
Sen. Charles Schumer
File Photo

Press release:

Following his personal meeting in China with President Xi Jinping last month, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today detailed how the new deal President Biden has struck with China to crack down on the scourge of fentanyl could be a major step forward to curb the opioid crisis in New York, but said now more than ever it is imperative to hold China accountable and ensure there is compliance with their commitments. 

“The agreement President Biden has announced with China is a long overdue step which has the potential to help cut off the supply of fentanyl at its source and stop this drug before it ever enters our country and hits the streets of New York, but now it is more vital than ever to hold China accountable for the commitments they have made,” said Senator Schumer. “Fentanyl has wreaked havoc in New York and across America, with this crisis stemming in large part in China, where large chemical companies openly and illicitly sell precursor chemicals to buyers in places like Mexico, where it is manufactured and illegally shipped to our most vulnerable communities here in NY. During my visit to China last month, we were pointed and direct with President Xi, I told him the devastating impact I have seen the opioid crisis have on New York families. I am pleased to see China take what could be a major step forward to cut off the flow of fentanyl, and I am going to be watching like a hawk for progress.”  

Specifically, Schumer explained China has said it will take new action to enforce its own regulations against the companies that make precursor drugs in a major step to potentially cut off the flow of this deadly drug. A similar notice to the industry in 2019 led to a drastic reduction in seizures of fentanyl shipments to the United States from China. Schumer said the U.S. also has information that that PRC police have taken law enforcement action against Chinese synthetic drug and chemical precursor suppliers.  As a result, certain China-based pharmaceutical companies ceased operations and have had some international payment accounts blocked.  This probably represents the first law enforcement action against synthetic drug-related chemical sellers by Chinese authorities since 2017. 

In addition, China and the United States will be launching a counter-narcotics working group to bolster law enforcement and information sharing to cut off the flow or precursor drugs and illicit fentanyl. The U.S. and China have both said they will also start working on an ongoing basis at the senior level to directly address this crisis and start working closely together to carry this initiative forward. In conjunction, Schumer said these long overdue steps have real potential to reduce the flow of these drugs into the United States and places like New York, and ultimately save lives.

Cocaine use locally contributing to fatal fentanyl overdoses

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) have identified a concerning trend of elevated cocaine use locally that is causing fatal fentanyl overdoses. Fortunately, these deaths are preventable, and resources are available locally to help. 

Since 2021, there have been 29 fatal fentanyl overdoses confirmed in Genesee County, and at least 72% of these deaths have also involved cocaine.

In some instances, bystanders reported that the person who died of a fentanyl overdose thought they were taking only powder cocaine or crack cocaine. In Orleans County, there were 10 fatal fentanyl overdoses during this same time period, of which 40% involved cocaine.

GO Health has also identified through wastewater analysis that cocaine consumption is very high in Batavia and Le Roy compared to other areas nationally. GO Health regularly analyzes wastewater samples from wastewater treatment plants throughout Genesee and Orleans Counties for high-risk substances to better understand local patterns in drug consumption and these trends are compared to upwards of 160 sites nationally by the wastewater epidemiology company Biobot Analytics. 

In August, the estimated cocaine consumption in Batavia was higher than 94% of other tested sites in the United States, and in Le Roy it was higher than 95% of other tested sites. Substance use is estimated in each sewershed by taking the amount of the metabolite found in the wastewater and dividing by the size of the population served by the wastewater treatment plant.

“For the last several years, Genesee County’s opioid overdose death rates have surpassed the state’s average, and been higher than neighboring counties too,” stated Paul Pettit, the Public Health Director for GO Health. “Unfortunately, what we are seeing here are indications of a relatively high amount of cocaine use locally, and when that cocaine is contaminated with fentanyl, it is causing preventable overdoses and deaths,” Pettit explained.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can be prescribed by physicians to treat patients’ severe pain that is not responsive to other medications, such as in cases of advanced-stage cancer.

Because it is 50 times stronger than heroin, illegally-made fentanyl has largely replaced heroin and other opioids in the U.S. drug supply, and is commonly mixed with other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many people who use street drugs like cocaine or counterfeit pills are unaware that what they are taking may contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Individuals who are aware of the risks of fentanyl overdose when using cocaine are empowered to make safer choices that could save their life or the life of a loved one, and a number of resources are available:

  • Narcan (naloxone) nasal spray can be used to reverse an opioid overdose, and should be administered to anyone who is showing signs of having difficulty breathing or who is not breathing at all, regardless of whether the person is known to have taken an opioid. Narcan is available for free from the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force simply by texting “KIT” to 1-877-535-2461.
  • Fentanyl test strips, which can be used to check for fentanyl in drugs, are available for free from the MATTERS Network at 
  • People who use cocaine or other drugs can reduce their risk by never using alone, taking turns when using drugs with others, or calling the Never Use Alone Hotline at 1-800-484-3731.
  • Treatment for substance use disorders is available locally from Hope Haven at 585-922-9900, from Horizon Health Services at 585-815-0247, and from UConnectCare (formerly GCASA) at 585-343-1124 (Genesee County) or 585-589-0055 (Orleans County).
  • Entry points to treatment are also available in person 24 hours a day at the City of Batavia Fire Department, the City of Batavia Police Department, the Genesee County Sheriff, and the Le Roy Police Department through the Public Safety Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI).

For information on Health Department programs and services, visit or call your respective health department at:

  • Genesee County Health Department: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County Health Department: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at GOHealthNY.

Schumer announces major push to upend flow of fentanyal into Western New York

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Chuck Schumer

Press Release:

Following several recent major fentanyl busts in Orleans County, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launch a major new push to upend the flow of fentanyl in Orleans, Western NY, and the Finger Lakes-Rochester area.

Schumer detailed the new bipartisan legislation, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, he included in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would not only allow President Biden to place sanctions on China for its role in contributing to our nation’s fentanyl epidemic and declare international fentanyl trafficking a national emergency. 

Schumer is now demanding that the House pass the measure to combat the flow of fentanyl from China and Mexico before it reaches places like Orleans County and Upstate NY.

“From Buffalo to Rochester to right here in Orleans County, fentanyl continues to take the lives of far too many New Yorkers each and every day. We must make getting this deadly drug off of our streets and out of the U.S. a top priority, and the just passed Senate defense bill provides a rare window of opportunity to do just that,” said Senator Schumer. 

“That’s why I’m now calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to quickly pass this measure and help upend the flow of fentanyl overseas, far before it reaches places like Orleans County and Western NY. By including the FEND Off Fentanyl Act in the NDAA and ensuring that we can place tough sanctions on China for turning a blind eye to this issue and giving these deadly exports the green light, I am working to keep our communities safe in Upstate NY and across the nation. Too many lives have been lost, and too many others are at stake, especially here in New York.”

“The opioid epidemic and fentanyl crisis is a significant public health and public safety issue,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “Over the past five years, there have been 53 fatal overdoses in Genesee County and 23 fatal overdoses in Orleans County, with additional deaths still pending official causes of death. In 2022, 83% of all fatal opioid overdoses in both counties involved fentanyl, which demonstrates how serious this problem is in our communities. This trend is something that is also seen across New York State and throughout the nation. I applaud Senator Schumer for his support of this amendment that will include stopping the spread of illegal fentanyl at its source.”

Joseph V. Cardone, Orleans County District Attorney said, “In my 31 years as District Attorney this fentanyl crisis is by far the most devastating issue law enforcement has had to combat.  While not one gram of this poison is produced in this Country it is daily killing our youth in every community in America.  Clearly stopping fentanyl from entering our country needs to be a priority.”

Schumer said the Senate passage of the NDAA bill just days ago included a bipartisan plan to officially declare international fentanyl trafficking a national emergency and give the president special powers to impose tough sanctions on China, Mexico, or any other relevant fentanyl supply chain hub. The House passed its own version of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier in July, but now that Schumer has passed NDAA in the Senate, lawmakers will need to reconcile the Senate bill and the House bill by negotiating a compromise version that can pass both chambers.

Fentanyl is trafficked into the United States primarily from China and Mexico, and is responsible for the ongoing fentanyl epidemic in Upstate NY and across the country. China is the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and their immediate precursors. 

From China, those substances are shipped primarily through express consignment carriers or international mail directly to the United States, or, alternatively, shipped directly to transnational criminal organizations in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Some officials estimate that China is responsible for over 90 percent of the illicit fentanyl found in the U.S.

Schumer explained to disrupt the flow of illicit opioids into the United States, he pushed to include the FEND Off Fentanyl Act into the just-passed Senate defense bill. The bill does the following:

  1. Declares that the international trafficking of fentanyl is a national emergency.
  2. Requires the President to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
  3. Enables the President to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
  4. Enhances the ability to enforce sanctions violations thereby making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
  5. Requires the administration to report to Congress on actions the U.S. government is taking to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids.
  6. Allows the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
  7. Requires the Treasury Department to prioritize fentanyl-related suspicious transactions and include descriptions of drug cartels’ financing actions in Suspicious Activity Reports.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. It is short-acting and cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled when mixed with other drugs. While pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed for severe pain and end-of-life care, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is produced illicitly and is now common in the illicit drug supply. 

The presence of non-pharmaceutical fentanyl in Orleans County, Western NY, and the Finger Lakes has dramatically increased the number of overdose deaths, and fentanyl is now the “leading cause of death for Americans 18 to 45 years old.”

Since 2020, Orleans County has seen 14 deaths from opioid overdoses, 76 outpatient emergency department visits, and 558 admissions to OASAS-certified substance abuse disorder treatment programs. Several recent examples have underscored the prevalence and danger of fentanyl in Orleans County. 

Earlier this year, 48 members of a local drug ring were charged for selling fentanyl and other opioids across the Finger Lakes region and Orleans. Law enforcement seized more than 10 kilograms of fentanyl and 10 kilograms of cocaine, $9 million worth of illegal drugs. 

Similarly, a raid earlier in the year seized 114 fentanyl pills disguised as other drugs, and just last month, U.S. Attorney Trini Ross announced the guilty plea of a dealer who intended to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl into both Medina and Rochester. Back in 2018, the rate of overdose deaths jumped to 27.1 per 100,000 – much higher than state and national averages. That number prompted health department officials and others to allocate more resources to the problem.

Looking at the broader region, in 2022 alone, the Finger Lakes saw 295 deaths from opioid overdoses, 843 outpatient emergency department visits, and 5,744 admissions to OASAS-certified substance abuse disorder treatment programs.

Similarly, the Buffalo/Western New York saw 410 deaths from opioid overdoses, 856 outpatient emergency department visits, and 5,036 admissions to OASAS-certified substance abuse disorder treatment programs. In 2021, nearly 107,000 Americans died from an overdose, and 65% of overdose deaths were caused by fentanyl. 

Last year alone, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl - enough to supply a lethal dose to every American.  

Additionally, Xylazine has been a contributing factor in fatal overdoses across Monroe County for years, with over 180 deaths tied to the lethal drug since 2019. Xylazine opioids caused 59 fatal overdoses in Monroe County and 3 in Wayne County in 2022 and were suspected in 10 fatal OD cases earlier this year in Wayne County. Erie County had 17 confirmed Xylazine deaths since 2022. Xylazine has also been found in drugs seized in cases in Orleans and Genesee County beginning in 2019. Xylazine was involved in four opioid-related deaths In Orleans County and Xylazine was involved in 6 opioid-related deaths in Genesee County. 

Schumer has also been sounding the alarm on the spread of Xylazine, a dangerous, skin-rotting drug that has been making its way to Upstate NY streets, already taking the lives of hundreds of New Yorkers. After a horrific wave of overdoses and deaths in Upstate NY tied to Xylazine earlier this year, Schumer stood with local law enforcement and health officials in communities across the Finger Lakes and Upstate NY to call for further federal action. 

In April, the Biden Administration heeded Schumer’s calls and declared xylazine an emerging threat to the United States, a major step in eradicating the illicit supply of the deadly drug once and for all. 

This past June, the Senate took another major step in the fight against xylazine by passing the ‘TRANQ Act,’ which directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support research and other activities related to identifying xylazine, develop new tests for detection, and establish partnerships with organizations on the front lines of this battle.

Most recently, the Biden Administration took even further action implementing many of the actions Schumer highlighted releasing a new Xylazine Response Plan, to coordinate an inter-agency governmental response to help build the treatment, data, and research capabilities that are needed to help those impacted by xylazine.

“I’m glad the Biden administration has laid out a plan to fight the insidious spread of this Narcan-resistant, skin-rotting, zombie drug. This is a major step in the fight to eradicate this awful scourge in Orleans and across Western NY once and for all,” Schumer added.

“This plan will save lives. I know it won’t be easy to get xylazine off our NY streets for good, and ultimately, we will need more funding for prevention, recovery, and treatment programs for those struggling with addiction. That’s why I am committed, now more than ever, to continuing to push for Congress to provide the necessary funding to increase resources that fight this epidemic on the front lines and rid communities in Upstate NY and across the nation of this terrifying drug.”

The new action taken outlined in the Xylazine Response plan includes increased resources for:

  • Testing - Improve the xylazine testing being conducted in community and law enforcement settings, which is currently uneven across the United States, impeding the development of a full national threat picture. Improved clinical testing to detect xylazine in drug products and postmortem toxicology settings will provide important information about this emerging threat.
  • Epidemiology and Comprehensive Data Systems - Gather additional information to inform, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive and coordinated public health and public safety response, including xylazine sourcing and determining to what degree persons are encountering xylazine alone or xylazine-adulterated products.
  • Evidence-Based Prevention, Harm Reduction, and Treatment Implementation and Capacity Building - Address the concerning health challenges associated with xylazine by developing and disseminating best practices based on emerging clinical efforts with patients exposed to xylazine, evaluating potential xylazine overdose reversal strategies, and prioritizing efforts to educate and equip healthcare providers and first responders on best practices to treat flesh wounds associated with xylazine.
  • Source and Supply Information and Intelligence; and Supply Reduction Actions - Help inform public health and public safety officials about the sources of xylazine in the illicit drug supply chain and markets in the United States by determining whether it is diverted from legitimate supplies and/or synthesized for illicit use, enhancing ability and jurisdiction to regulate the supply chain, and identifying and develop additional targeted and coordinated law enforcement actions and efforts to reduce the illicit supply of xylazine.
  • Regulatory Control and Monitoring Options - Assess regulatory options to disrupt the production, distribution, illegal sale and trafficking, and exposure to illicit xylazine, as the particular chemical nature of this non-opioid tranquilizer may pose challenges for traditional methods of testing drugs in scheduling decisions.
  • Basic and Applied Research - Conduct research to evaluate as quickly as possible potential xylazine antidotes in humans, drug-drug interactions, population-level health, social, equity, and economic drivers and consequences of exposure to fentanyl adulterated with xylazine, and identify the most promising clinical stabilization, detoxification, and treatment protocols. 

Schumer has a long history of fighting for additional resources to support law enforcement and boost addiction recovery services. Most recently, he secured $445 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) grants, an increase of $30 million from FY22. 

He secured $16 million for the COPS anti-methamphetamine program and $35 million for the COPS anti-heroin task force that helps ensure the safety of local communities. He also secured $302 million for the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program in this year’s budget. 

In addition, Schumer led the fight to secure $44.9 billion to address opioid abuse in the most recent Omnibus, an increase of over $345 million over the previous year. That includes nearly $1.6 billion in State Opioid Response grants, $100 million more for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment program, $111 million for medication-assisted treatment programs, $145 million for programs targeted towards rural communities, and more.

As Fentanyl ODs deaths rise, residents encouraged to learn how to administer Naloxone

By Press Release

Press release:

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans 18 to 45 years old. It is being mixed illegally with drugs like counterfeit painkillers, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, so the lethal dose is much smaller. You cannot see, taste, or smell fentanyl, but there is something you can do to protect others. Getting trained to administer Naloxone can help get those that are experiencing an overdose the time they need to get help. Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that works to reverse an opioid overdose, including a fentanyl overdose. Naloxone works as an opioid antagonist by binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioids.

In Genesee County, fentanyl has caused a large number of deaths, and has even been found mixed in with other drugs. Since 2018, there have been 58 fatal opioid overdoses in the county, with 10 additional deaths still pending official causes of death as of November 2022. In 2020, Genesee County experienced 15 fatal opioid overdoses (25.7 per 100,000). With a higher fatal opioid overdose rate than that of New York State in 2020 (21.8 per 100,000), it is especially important for Genesee County residents to know the signs of an overdose so naloxone can be administered.

If someone is having difficulty breathing, is unconscious, choking, or experiencing discoloration of their skin or lips, an overdose may be occurring. Naloxone can be used to reverse both fentanyl and other opioid overdoses, such as heroin, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. There is no harm in administering naloxone if an overdose is not occurring or opioids are not in the body.

The Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program, commonly referred to as N-CAP, can help individuals obtain naloxone. If you have prescription coverage as part of your health insurance plan, N-CAP will cover up to $40 in prescription co-payments. This ensures there are little to no out-of-pocket expenses for those getting naloxone at their local New York State pharmacy, all of which provide naloxone through a standing order that allows you to get this medication without a prescription. To learn more about N-CAP, please visit:

Individuals who use any type of illicit substance or misuse prescribed opioids are at risk of experiencing an overdose. Now more than ever, it is important to have naloxone nearby. Encourage your loved ones to be trained, carry naloxone, and tell their friends where they keep it in case they overdose. Reversing an overdose can be done in four steps: call 911, administer naloxone by inserting into the nostril and pressing the plunger, give CPR if trained, and stay until help arrives.

To learn more about fentanyl and naloxone, visit:

Deadly fentanyl has local law enforcement, health professionals on high alert

By Mike Pettinella


Those on the front lines in the battle against the opioid epidemic are unified in their message: Fentanyl is wreaking havoc across the United States, including right here in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

“We’re seeing the human toll that fentanyl is having on our communities,” said Investigator Ryan DeLong of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, one of four speakers at Tuesday morning’s GOW Opioid Task Force meeting. “Probably everyone in this room has been affected (by substance use) by a family member or friend.”

DeLong and Deputy Ken Quackenbush, both trained as Drug Recognition Experts, spoke on what local law enforcement is dealing with as the scourge of fentanyl – a synthetic, prescription opioid that is 50 times stronger that heroin – has found its way, mostly from Rochester, into the rural counties.

They were joined by Emily Penrose, an epidemiologist with the Genesee County Health Department, who reported data on opioid-related deaths in Genesee and Orleans, and Christen Foley, task force coordinator, who described the basics of fentanyl and the telling signs of an overdose.

About 35 people attended the quarterly meeting at The Recovery Station, operated by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, on Clinton Street Road.

DeLong and Quackenbush said that they are encountering scores of people using fentanyl through their road patrols and other drug crackdown initiatives. DeLong noted that the opioid is usually packaged in a wax envelope, about an inch square, but recently, they are finding it mixed with other substances for smoking purposes.

While police used to deal with heroin and other stimulants, Quackenbush said that he has “never seen heroin or seen heroin come back on a toxicology report” in his six years with the sheriff’s office.

“It’s always fentanyl,” he said.

Fentanyl is being distributed in both powder and pill form, with some pills in bright colors to mimic candy, the officers said. DeLong said fentanyl is much cheaper than heroin – a factor leading to its widespread use.  Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died of opioid overdose.

DeLong explained that law enforcement is staying up to date in several ways on the drugs coming into the United States:

  • Through regular emails from the federal government on packaging, quantities, forms and trends;
  • Through communication among all local and regional police agencies;
  • Through pro-active policing such as traffic stops and field testing of seizures (confirmed by lab results);
  • Through narcotics trainings at both the “macro and local levels.”

“Every deputy carries and is trained in the administration of Naloxone (popular brand name, Narcan) and we respond to overdose calls for service along with EMS (Emergency Management Services) and fire (personnel),” DeLong said. “We’re also involved in the Public Safety Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, where we link individuals to services through GCASA peer recovery advocates (without criminal implications) and conduct Drug Take-Back programs throughout the year.”

Penrose presented charts that showed a spike in opioid deaths in both Genesee and Orleans counties in 2017 and 2018 – both rates per 100,000 people well above the national average. She said the rate has decreased in the past three years but continues to be cause for concern.

“We’ve seen a big raise in fentanyl-related deaths since 2014, where before that, the overdose deaths mostly stemmed from heroin,” she said. “Additionally, we’ve seen fentanyl in stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and bath salts.”

As far as leading causes of death in the U.S., unintentional injuries – including poisoning from alcohol and drugs – is the leading cause of death in every age group from 1 through 44.

“When you look deeper into unintentional injuries, we see that poisoning is the No. 1 cause for the 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 age groups – and that’s fentanyl,” she stated.

The health department is currently involved in a new initiative, HEALing Genesee, which is working to prevent overdose death through education and awareness, increasing access to Naloxone (which saves the lives of people experiencing an overdose) and safe prescribing practices.

The GOW Opioid Task Force, in conjunction with GCASA, regularly schedules trainings in Naloxone administration, Foley said.

“We encourage as many people as possible to get trained in how to administer Naloxone,” she said, noting that just 2 milligrams of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose in most people. “It’s important to know the signs of an overdose, which including drowsiness or unconsciousness, slow or shallow breathing, choking sounds or skin tone changes.”

For more information about Naloxone training or the task force, contact Foley at 585-815-1863.

Photo: Speakers at the GOW Opioid Task Force meeting on Tuesday are, from left, Christen Foley, Emily Penrose, Deputy Ken Quackenbush and Investigator Ryan DeLong. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

DISCLOSURE: Mike Pettinella is the media specialist at GCASA.

Health Department participating in study and awareness program on fentanyl

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) and other community partners are excited to join 33 other communities across New York, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Ohio in launching the first communications campaign for the HEALing Communities Study. The first campaign running from Oct. 3 – Dec. 2, 2022 is focused on raising awareness of the dangers of illicit fentanyl, a drug that is present in more than three-quarters of the 2,000+ overdose deaths that occur in New York each year (source: NY State Opioid Annual Report 2021). In addition to sharing facts about the dangers of illicit fentanyl, the HEALing Communities Study campaign teaches ways to protect our loved ones and community members from a fatal fentanyl overdose including: 

  • Knowing the signs and how to respond to an overdose.
  • Getting trained and carrying naloxone (also known as Narcan® or Kloxxado™), an FDA-approved medication that can save someone’s life if they are overdosing on opioids, whether it is a prescription opioid pain medicine, heroin, or a drug contaminated with fentanyl.

“We are eager to continue the work that we have been doing to reduce overdose deaths in Genesee County,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “The HEALing Communities Study will provide additional technical assistance and financial resources to help support and expand the collaborative initiatives that the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming (GOW) Opioid Task Force is implementing.”

About the HEALing Communities Study
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that 2.1 million Americans have opioid use disorder (OUD), yet fewer than 20% of those receive specialty care in a given year. New York State has one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the nation. A menu of evidence-based practices (EBPs) exists, including opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution programs, prescription opioid safety, FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), behavioral therapies, and recovery support services. Unfortunately, these EBPs have largely failed to penetrate community settings. 

As a result, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched the HEALing Communities Study (HCS) to identify the EBPs that are most effective at the local level in preventing and treating Opioid Use Disorder. The goal of the study is to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths by 40 percent. The first phase of the study, which ended June 30, occurred in Cayuga, Columbia, Greene, Erie, Lewis, Putnam, Suffolk, and Ulster Counties. The second phase of the study will now run through December 2023 in Broome, Chautauqua, Cortland, Genesee, Monroe, Orange, Sullivan, and Yates counties. In support of this work, Genesee County is collaborating with local partners on a newly formed workgroup as part of the existing GOW Opioid Taskforce to launch three communications campaigns:

  1. Naloxone and Fentanyl Education (10/3/2022-12/2/2022)
  2. Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Awareness (3/6/2023-5/5/2023)
  3. MOUD Treatment Retention (8/7/2023-10/6/2023)

If you are interested in joining the HEALing Communities Work Group or other GOW Opioid Task Force Work Groups, please contact Christen Foley at

To learn more about the HEALing Communities Study and to help end overdoses in Genesee County, visit:


Senator Schumer secures fentanyl sanctions against China, others in national defense bill

By Billie Owens

Press release:

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that following his push, the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, expected to pass the Senate early next week.

The bill, written and introduced by Schumer in April, will hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor their commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal.

Additionally, the legislation will provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,” Senator Schumer said.

“For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking-up formulas of death and freely exporting lethal fentanyl across Upstate New York, and to many other places across America, where it is killing tens-of-thousands of people—and it has to stop. This bill gives our government the tools to enforce sanctions on nations, like China, that are illegally trafficking, and also provides new tools for law enforcement to go after opioid traffickers.” 

“When it comes to taking genuine action to address this crisis, China continues to kick the can down the road while American lives are kicked to the curb, enveloped by addiction or cut all too short by tragedy. The opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities across the country.

"In New York State, from November 2017 to 2018, approximately 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose. About 1,500 of those deaths were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. My legislation is critical in this fight to save American lives, and I’m proud to announce that it was included in the NDAA for FY2020 and is expected to pass early next week,” Schumer added.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
  • Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic opioid traffickers.
  • Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

Schumer explained that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between November 2017 and 2018 roughly 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose in New York State. Additionally, Schumer said that about 1,500 of those opioid overdose deaths were from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Following a commitment to the United States at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1 that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1. China has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of the illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.

To ensure accountability, the sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries.

Read more about the bill here.

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