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Getting prescription opioids in New Jersey just got tougher

By Karen Graham     May 9, 2017 in Health
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a stringent new opioid prescription law in February that will be implemented next week, and already, doctors are complaining, saying it's too strict.
The New Jersey legislation was prompted by the opioid crisis that has gripped the nation over the past couple of years and is a step in the right direction, according to many lawmakers. New Jersey will limit initial prescriptions for opioids to a five-day supply, tougher than the CDC's recommended guideline of seven days for a first prescription.
Governor Christie is taking his appointment to President Trump's Opioid Addiction Taskforce very seriously and has made the opioid crisis a key cause for his administration. In 2016, New Jersey disciplined 31 doctors for offenses related to opioids and is seeking criminal prosecution against one of them.
New York, Maine, and Massachusetts have already enacted laws limiting opioid prescriptions to an initial seven-day supply. So far, New Jersey's is the toughest, and it was passed quickly and almost unanimously by State Assembly, 64 to 1 with five abstentions, and with the Senate passing it the next week.
All pain medications can be dangerous if misused or abused.
All pain medications can be dangerous if misused or abused.
The Medical Society of New Jersey was strenuous in its objections to the legislation with many physicians saying that treatment for pain should be a decision between the patient and his or her doctor, not the state.
But to be specific, the law does allow a doctor to give a patient a refill for five more days if, after the fourth day of taking an opioid, the pain has not been alleviated. Prescribers will also have to register for the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program, or NJPMP, which tracks drug prescriptions, a patient’s opioid history, pharmacies involved, and a few other things.
New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino said that if the state finds that a doctor is violating the new law, they can expect criminal charges to be filed, explaining, "Bad doctors are a small minority. But a bad doctor is worse than a street corner dealer -- a doctor is someone who is shrouded in the public trust."
Is the White House keeping its promise to stop the opioid crisis?
However, in related news, the White House is proposing to slash the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy from $388 million to $24 million, and this includes ending two vital programs, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities programs.
The HIDTA was enacted by Congress in 1988, and is mandated with reducing drug trafficking and production in the U.S. through cooperation with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. They currently fund 752 initiatives throughout the country.
The Drug-Free Communities program (DFC) began in 1998 with an initial rewarding of $10 million for 92 grants, while growing to the extent that in 2016, $95 million was awarded for over 2,000 grants. Housed in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, it provides the funding necessary for communities to identify and respond to local drug and alcohol use problems.
This all happened, according to the Concord Monitor, one day after the House of Representatives passed their version of a healthcare bill that would no longer require insurers to cover substance abuse and mental health services and roll back expanded Medicaid,
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, called the news of the White House’s proposed cuts “very disconcerting," adding, “Those are absolutely critical programs to the state,” Sununu said on Friday. “We’ll make sure the folks at the federal level, the Trump administration, the Attorney General and his team understand how important those programs are to make sure we’re successful on the front.”
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