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Governor Christie Signs a Key Bill that Seeks to Strengthen the State’s Opioid Abuse Prevention Program

New Jersey stands to benefit immensely from the recent signing of a bill which when implemented, will lead to the strengthening of the State’s Opioid Abuse Prevention Program. This bill will expand the scope and tighten the state’s prescription management program.  This bill is part of a series of bills meant to combat the State’s heroin and opioid crisis.

According to this new bill, the law requires that all pharmacists and physicians be registered so that they can access the State’s prescription monitoring program (PMP). This access will help in tracking patients who are prone to abusing prescription pills by unscrupulously seeking drugs from multiple physicians and pharmacists. The law also requires physicians to check the PMP when the patients come back for a refill of their prescription medicine.

This new law which was spearheaded by Sen. Joseph Vitale has received accolades from Gov. Christie who praised it for being a decisive step towards controlling rampant opioid abuse that has continued to threaten the well-being of the people of the State of New Jersey.

During the signing of the bill into law, Christie acknowledged the great strides that his administration has made towards the fight against opiate abuse. Through collaborated efforts from treatment providers, healthcare professionals, members of the public and law enforcement are now able to work together. The Governor noted that the signing of the bill will strengthen the State’s prescription monitoring program and confirm that working together is the best way to yield solutions that will effectively deal with the stigma of addiction, help in rebuilding families and save lives.

The current prescription monitoring program has a major loophole in the fact that physicians are not obligated to check the PMP prior to refilling a prescription for opiates. This loophole contributes to the high incidence of prescription opiates abuse in New Jersey.

Senator Vitale expressed optimism that the new bill would help in tightening the monitoring of prescription drugs and ensures that chances of abuse are carefully monitored and prevented. This means that persons with chronic pain will have to fill their prescription every time they run out. However, this move has been deemed by most as being impractical.

The bill has also been faulted by critics who argue that the bill does not tackle the state’s heroin crisis. Granted prescription opiates are thought to be a probable gateway to heroin use. The use of this illegal substance has skyrocketed despite the restrictions leveled against prescription drugs. In 2014, the CDC reported that New Jersey’s heroin overdose death rate was slightly more than triple the national average. One of the two bills pending signing by the governor seeks to allow the use of medication assisted treatments. Some law enforcement agents are opposed to this bill by arguing against opioid substitution. However, some advocates feel that this option is effective for some populations and that medical assisted treatment can be used in treating highly complicated or nuanced problems. To deal with New Jersey’s problem, the state must adhere to strict regulations of prescription opiates and agree to the substitution of harmful opiates for less harmful opiates. Persons with chronic pain should be given remedies that will help them manage the pain and dissuade them from abusing opiates or using heroin. It looks like New Jersey is on the right path to working to help ease the opiate epidemic plaguing the state.

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