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Attorney General Report: 20,000 NJ Physicians Signed Up for Prescription Monitoring Program Access in 2014

Newark, NJ, December 12, 2014 ― Approximately 20,000 New Jersey physicians and 5,000 other licensed healthcare practitioners this year gained direct access to the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP), a significant milestone in the fight against the deadly epidemic of opiate abuse.

As of today, 85 percent of New Jersey’s physicians – or 25,501 of the State’s eligible physicians – are able to access the NJPMP. This represents a 467 percent increase since December 2013, when approximately 4,500 physicians had NJPMP access.

Additionally, 56 percent of all healthcare practitioners in New Jersey – or 35,500 of the State’s eligible prescribers and pharmacists of all kinds – have direct access to the prescription-tracking database.  This represents a 256 percent increase since December 2013, when 9,965 healthcare practitioners had access to the NJPMP.

The Division of Consumer Affairs has made it a goal to expand access to the NJPMP to the entire community of New Jersey physicians.  Members of the medical community had expressed the concern that the NJPMP enrollment process was too cumbersome.

In response, the Division removed this barrier by granting automatic NJPMP enrollment to all New Jersey doctors who successfully applied for the renewal of their State-granted authority to prescribe CDS. The Division also launched an outreach campaign, encouraging doctors to sign up for and use the NJPMP.

“Nearly all New Jersey physicians now have direct access to the NJPMP, thanks to the Division of Consumer Affairs’ commitment to bringing this database to New Jersey’s medical community,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.  “This is an undeniable success for the health and safety of New Jersey families. The NJPM’s success depends on its use by the healthcare professionals who prescribe these drugs and interact with patients.”

The NJPMP, maintained by the Division of Consumer Affairs, collects detailed information on prescriptions filled in New Jersey for controlled dangerous substances (CDS) – the category of drugs that includes potentially addictive opiate painkillers. It includes data on more than 40 million prescriptions written since September 2011.

The NJPMP is available to all licensed healthcare practitioners who are authorized by the State of New Jersey to prescribe or dispense CDS medications.  It routinely helps prescribers learn whether their own names have been fraudulently misused in forged prescriptions.

Physicians also regularly use the NJPMP to learn whether patients have engaged in “doctor shopping” – deceptively visiting multiple physicians to obtain more narcotics than any one doctor would prescribe – or other patterns consistent with possible drug abuse or diversion.

“Thanks to our efforts, nearly all New Jersey doctors can now log onto the NJPMP for a clear picture of the ways individual patients have obtained opiate medications,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said.  “It is now up to those doctors to put the NJPMP into use, and intervene appropriately if a patient shows signs of drug abuse.”

The Division will continue to provide automatic NJPMP enrollment to other healthcare practitioners upon the successful renewal of their CDS registrations. For example, the annual CDS renewal period for dentists, podiatrists, and certified nurse midwives will take place between January 1 and February 28, 2015. Pharmacists will apply for CDS renewal between March 1 and April 30, 2015, and the renewal period for optometrists is between July 1 and August 31, 2015.

Also in 2014, the Division expanded the NJPMP to include direct data-sharing with the PMPs maintained by Connecticut and Delaware, and began efforts to build a similar data-sharing partnership with New York State. During the first five months of the partnerships with these two states, the interstate hub has enabled 11,904 prescriber data requests between New Jersey and Delaware, and 10,408 prescriber data requests between New Jersey and Connecticut.

The NJPMP is merely one component of the Attorney General’s and Division of Consumer Affair’s comprehensive strategy to fight the diversion and abuse of opiates.

Other elements include, but are not limited to:

  • Establishment of a Pain Management Council, an advisory body tasked with reviewing the current professional standards and regulations that apply to all healthcare professionals who prescribe or dispense prescription drugs. The advisory council will help the Division of Consumer Affairs develop a set of best practice recommendations for New Jersey’s healthcare professionals.
  • 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. There are now 113 Project Medicine Drop locations, with more being added.
  • 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.