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Senate Health Committee Releases Legislation to Make Opioid Overdose Medications More Accessible

Trenton – In an effort to better aid individuals struggling with opioid addiction, the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee today passed three bills which would make opioid overdose medications more accessible.

The first bill, S-3800, sponsored by Senator Dawn Addiego, would require health benefits carriers and State programs to provide coverage for opioid antidotes, including naloxone without imposing prior authorization requirements.

Specifically, the bill would be for opioid antidotes that are either prescribed or administered to individuals by authorized licensed medical practitioners or licensed pharmacists, under a standing order to allow pharmacists to dispense opioid antidotes to any person without an individual prescription.

“Naloxone is an inexpensive drug that can be used to treat an opioid overdose in the event of an emergency,” said Senator Addiego (D-Atlantic/Burlington/Camden). “When properly administered, the drug has been proven to significantly decrease the likelihood of death following an overdose, saving countless lives to date. While no carriers currently impose prior authorization for naloxone, we must ensure that our residents continue to have access to this crucial, life-saving medication.”

A second bill, S-3802, sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal, would require the Division of Consumer Affairs to publish the retail price of certain opioid antidotes within the “New Jersey Prescription Drug Retail Price Registry.” The bill would also require pharmacies to include opioid antidotes on their prescription drug retail price lists made available to customers.

“In New Jersey alone, we have seen the devastating effects of opioid addiction, with deaths due to drug overdoses increasing every year since 2014,”said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Having these antidotes readily accessible has been proven to be extremely effective, with community-based overdose prevention programs successfully having reversed over 25,000 deaths between 1996 and 2014. By having the price readily available, individuals suffering from addiction will be more likely to seek out opioid antidotes to help them in a time of crisis.”

The third bill, S-3803, sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale, would permit paramedics to administer buprenorphine.

Under the bill, paramedics may administer the drug to an individual following the emergent administration of an opioid antidote to the individual provided that the paramedic is:

  • administering emergency medical services through a program registered with the United States Attorney General;
  • dispensing the drug consistent with requirements under federal law; and
  • has completed comprehensive training and competency assessments regarding which specific medical conditions necessitate the administration of buprenorphine, including, dosage requirements and the required medical documentation following its administration.

“Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder and is especially useful in treating withdrawal symptoms after a patient has been revived from an opioid overdose with naloxone,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “While naloxone is critical in preventing deaths due to opioid overdose, patients who receive the drug often experience intense withdrawal symptoms, which could encourage them to consume the drug more. Buprenorphine is essential for not only assisting those experiencing withdrawal, but also stabilizing patients in recovery by curbing opioid cravings.”