Groundbreaking Heroin Summit Encourages Collaboration


 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein


Date April 4, 2014


CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925


Groundbreaking Heroin Summit Encourages Collaboration

Leaders from Law Enforcement, Healthcare & Government Meet to Discuss Challenges


ERIE COUNTY, NY—The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) today sponsored a first-ever conference entitled “Heroin Summit: A Community Crisis” to bring together over 100 leaders and executives from a cross-section of agencies and organizations to discuss the growing threat of heroin and opioid abuse in Erie County.

 “The rate of fatal overdoses due to heroin abuse continues to rise at an alarming rate” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “The results of our final toxicology reports for overdoses that occurred in 2013 show that the rate of fatal heroin overdoses rose more than preliminary figures indicated. There was a dramatic increase last year, from 20 deaths to 37 deaths, an increase of 85%. We have convened this meeting as a first step in identifying how we can fight this public health crisis.”

 “I commend the Erie County Health Department and all, who by this program continue to expose the dangers of heroin.” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr.  “As we have seen locally, heroin at a minimum causes a life time of addiction and misery, but can also cause immediate death. Thanks to this Summit, I have no doubt that we in law enforcement will be even better prepared to “protect and serve” when it comes to the multi-faceted problems posed by this particularly insidious poison.”

 Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Resident Agent in Charge Michelle Spahn stated: “According to the New York state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, misuse and abuse of heroin are particularly prevalent in Long Island and Western New York. DEA seizures of heroin seized at the southwest border increased nearly four times from 2008 to 2012. There is no doubt that heroin abused is the public’s number one health threat in every city across the country, hitting us here in Buffalo at an alarming rate. That is why this Summit has included those agencies tackling this threat head on – treatment, prevention and law enforcement organizations. DEA is committed to working with our partners to combat this deadly epidemic.”

 After an impressive lineup of speakers addressed the gathering, breakout sessions were held to network, share information and develop plans of action. These plans of action will be shared with all of the attendees and follow up activities will be scheduled for each working group.

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For more information:

Erie County Department of Health –

The United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of New York --

United States Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division --

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