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Senator Vitale

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale that would authorize pharmacists to provide opioid antidotes to patients without individual prescriptions cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“This bill will expand access to the life-saving drug beyond its current limitation to law enforcement officers and first responders. Often, family members who know their loved one is suffering from addiction are the first to discover an overdose and could safely administer the drug,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Providing greater access to Narcan will save more lives and enable those who are suffering to get the proper treatment they need to cure the disease of addiction.”

This bill (S-295) would expand public access to opioid antidotes, such as naloxone hydrochloride, by supplementing the “New Jersey Pharmacy Practice Act” and amending the provisions of the “Overdose Prevention Act” in order to authorize pharmacists to supply opioid antidotes to patients without prescriptions under standardized protocols adopted by the Board of Pharmacy. The authority granted by the bill would be in addition to the existing authority of pharmacists to supply opioid antidotes to patients without prescriptions under a standing order issued by a physician.

Under the bill, the Board of Pharmacy would be required to adopt standardized protocols to be used by licensed pharmacists when furnishing an opioid antidote to a patient without a prescription within 90 days after the bill’s effective date. The protocols must require a pharmacist to determine that the patient seeking the antidote is capable of administering the same to an overdose victim in an emergency.  These protocols are consistent with the same if dispensing the antidote to anyone under a standing order.

“We must tackle this epidemic that is claiming so many of its victims’ lives from every angle possible,” added Senator Vitale. “It is through our continued and concerted efforts in education, prevention, treatment and recovery that we will succeed.”

Additional legislation that cleared today’s Health Committee included a bill sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey that would require the review of Core Curriculum Standards to ensure that substance abuse instruction provided in public schools incorporates the most recent, evidence-based standards and practices available.

The bill (S-372) would require the State Board of Education to issue a report, including the methodology used, the strengths and weaknesses of the Core Curriculum Content Standards on substance abuse, and an analysis of the extent to which the Standards incorporate the most recent, evidence-based standards and practices, within 120 days of enactment.

“Making sure that what we are teaching our kids in our schools is in sync with the latest evidence-based standards and practices will enhance the effectiveness of substance abuse prevention education,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex, Morris). “We’re losing too many young lives in New Jersey today, while this epidemic continues to quickly spread and grow very deadly.”

The bills were both released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 8-0.

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