Gov. Cuomo demands fentanyl crackdown

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed a proposal Thursday to go after the makers and sellers of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

"I have no compassion and no tolerance for the manufacturers," the governor said. "We have to cut off the head of the snake."

He complained that drugmakers can alter the chemical composition of their drugs to get around laws meant to limit their production.

"It's a game of whack-a-mole," he said.

To solve the dilemma, the governor is calling for passage of a bill that would add 11 types of fentanyl to the state controlled substance list as a Schedule I drug. Adding new versions of fentanyl to that classification would make the manufacturing of any of them a felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. And new compounds created in the future would automatically be added to the list, allowing authorities to keep up with the dealers.

"Reducing access to heroin and fentanyl is certainly a step in the right direction," said Jeff Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association.

The Cuomo administration says that fentanyl-related deaths increased 160 percent statewide between 2015 and 2016.

Cuomo is also proposing a change to help officials responding to fentanyl overdoses. It would require insurance companies to cover more doses of Narcan -- because fentanyl overdoses can require five times as much of the drug than heroin overdoses.

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