PENN YAN—Democratic Congressional Candidate Tracy Mitrano (NY-23) spoke today about the desperate need for action on the opioid epidemic that has affected communities across the country, including New York’s Southern Tier, and on the failure of Representative Tom Reed to adequately address this issue.

“We have a crisis in our district long neglected by Congressman Reed,” Mitrano said. “Drug addiction has touched almost every family in NY-23. It does not care about party lines or socioeconomic status. I myself have watched addiction tear families apart and end the lives of young people in this district who otherwise had their whole lives still ahead of them.”

America’s opioid epidemic has reached a crisis state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more than 200,000 people in the United States have fatally overdosed on prescription-related opioids since the drugs were introduced in the 1990s. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 49,000 people died last year alone due to opioid overdose and the trend show little sign of abating..

The epidemic has had a major impact on New York’s Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. This year, a poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute in partnership with the Southern Tier Addiction Resource Center found that 66 percent of people in the region said they had been impacted by the epidemic.

“Reed has done far too little to address this crisis and the enormity of the hurt it has caused,” Mitrano said. “His position on those suffering from addiction is focused on shame, judgment, and punishment—his major proposal on this issue is a bill that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers. But such legislation is likely only to discourage people from seeking the real help they need to beat their addictions while doing little to actually prevent this epidemic.”

In contrast to Reed’s punishment-centered proposal, Mitrano favors a number of measures to aid those struggling with opioid addiction and their families and to seek an end to the epidemic. She is a fervent advocate for requiring that all law enforcement and emergency medical personnel carry naloxone, a potentially life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and for guaranteeing that all people affected by addiction are able to access detox facilities.

For Mitrano, ensuring access to healthcare services is fundamental to ensuring that affected individuals are able to get treatment while preventing others from falling into the grip of addiction. For this reason, she supports maintaining legislative protections that prohibit insurance companies from discriminating from consumers on the basis of pre-existing conditions and has also called for an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid.

Mitrano’s platform also includes support for legislative efforts to address the overprescribing of opioids and stresses that the pharmaceutical companies who introduced these drugs, despite knowing of their harmful effects, should be held to account.

“Reed has been bought and paid for by his out of state big pharma donors who care about selling their product, not about the impact of the opioid crisis on our families, friends, and neighbors here in NY-23,” Mitrano said. “Washington has truly changed Congressman Reed. It has made him callous and out of touch with the daily lives of the people of NY-23 and those battling addiction on a daily basis. Reed has let the people of this district down by failing to act on the opioid crisis.”

Since 2017 alone, Reed has accepted $109,650 from political action committees affiliated with the pharmaceutical and health products industry.

In closing, Mitrano spoke directly to those affected by this crisis.

“To those suffering from addiction, I would say, keep fighting,” Mitrano said. “We need you. There are those waiting to help you through the dark mist of addiction. You’re not alone in this.”

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