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New Jersey has awarded a contract to initiate the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, joining thirty-four other states that already have programs up and running. Former Governor Jon Corzine initially signed enabling legislation in 2008 when New Jersey received a $350,000 grant to start its own program.
This long awaited program requires pharmacies to collect and send data to the state for every prescription for controlled dangerous substances, including anabolic steroids and frequently abused painkillers like methadone and oxycodone.
The database is designed to alert prescribers that a patient may be abusing drugs or diverting them for illegal sale. It also makes it easier for prescribers to recognize patients who “doctor shop,” or obtain prescriptions from several doctors in order to gain access to prescription drugs. Additionally, the database will make it easier to flag physicians and pharmacists who are prescribing medications unscrupulously.
There are mixed reactions to the development of the database. Some physicians are concerned that the database programs could breach patient confidentiality, and interfere with needed pain treatment. They also state that the use of the database will be time consuming. Despite physician hesitancy, Thomas Calcagni, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, calls it [the database], “a significant milestone,” and former Assemblyman Fred Scalera states, “Hopefully, this system will save lives and protect people through the state.”
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