|NEWARK – In another step forward for New Jersey’s fight against opiate abuse, the New Jersey State Division of Consumer Affairs today convened the inaugural meeting of its Pain Management Council, an advisory body whose members represent State regulatory agencies, healthcare professional organizations, medical consultants, and hospitals.
The Pain Management Council is tasked with reviewing the current professional standards and regulations that apply to all healthcare professionals who prescribe or dispense prescription drugs, including physicians, advance practice nurses, pharmacists, and others. Over the next several months, the advisory group will help the Division of Consumer Affairs develop a set of best practice recommendations for New Jersey’s healthcare professionals. The goal is to provide voluntary guidelines that will enable healthcare professionals to provide pain management, while maintaining effective controls to prevent the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.
“Direct engagement with New Jersey’s physicians and other healthcare practitioners is a vital component of our comprehensive fight against opiate abuse,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “This Pain Management Council is our newest measure to help medical professionals treat their patients while protecting the public against the unlawful diversion of prescription drugs.”
The Pain Management Council will focus on topics including:
- The curriculum for medical students and the continuing education curriculum for licensed practitioners related to pain management, recognizing opioid addiction, and use of the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP).
- The ways practitioners can and currently do address the issue of opioid diversion and abuse, including recognizing patient risks for addiction, and establishing controls against diversion.
- The managing of pain for patients, including safe opioid prescribing, the prescribing of non-opioid treatments, interventional pain management, and interdisciplinary chronic pain management.
“Prescription drug abuse is a major contributor to the ongoing crisis of opiate abuse. We are proud to have convened a panel of experts to help develop best practice recommendations for New Jersey’s healthcare professionals,” said Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve C. Lee.
The attendees of today’s inaugural Pain Management Council meeting was comprised of representatives of the Division of Consumer Affairs and its healthcare-related professional licensing boards including the Board of Medical Examiners; the Attorney General’s Division of Law and Division of Criminal Justice; the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services; the Department of Children and Families; the Department of Health; the Office of the Comptroller-Division of Medicaid Fraud; several New Jersey hospitals; and a host of healthcare professional associations and medical consultants such as the Medical Society of New Jersey, New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, New Jersey Pharmacists Association; and several others.
This effort is merely the latest in the Attorney General’s and Division of Consumer Affairs’ comprehensive strategy to fight the diversion and abuse of opiates.
Other elements include, but are not limited to:
- The expansion of the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP), to include direct data-sharing with the PMPs maintained by the States of Connecticut and Delaware, and efforts to build a similar data-sharing partnership with New York State. To date, approximately 41 percent of New Jersey’s 62,992 eligible prescribers and pharmacists are registered as users of the NJPMP. This statewide database tracks the prescription sale of all drugs classified as Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) or Human Growth Hormone into New Jersey.
- The continued expansion of Project Medicine Drop, which enables New Jerseyans to dispose of their unused and expired medications at participating police departments, sheriff’s offices, and State Police barracks.
- New, mandatory security requirements for New Jersey prescription blanks. Prescribers will be required to exclusively use the new prescription blanks as of November 3, 2014.
- The Division’s May, 2013 adoption of a fully modern set of Best Practices for Pharmacy Security as recommendations for voluntary compliance by New Jersey’s pharmacies. The Division developed the Best Practices for Pharmacy Security after bringing pharmacy industry, regulatory, and law enforcement groups together for two Pharmacy Security Summit meetings in 2012.
In 2013, New Jersey saw nearly 6,700 admissions to State-licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs due to prescription drug abuse, an increase of nearly 300 percent over the past decade. More than 30 percent of opiate admissions for treatment involved persons 25 years old or younger. Nationwide, 113 people die every day as a result of drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments every day for the abuse or misuse of drugs.
For more information on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs' initiative to halt the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, view the Division's NJPMP website, and the Division's Project Medicine Drop website.