- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Pharmacists and doctors prescribing oxycodone and other controlled substances are now required to participate in a state program designed to prevent addicts from seeking multiple medical opinions with the aim of obtaining prescription drugs.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Monday requiring drug prescribers and pharmacists in New Jersey to register for access to the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program.

“We’re not only making the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program even stronger, we’re demonstrating that by working together, we can all be part of the solution - a solution that fights the stigma of addiction, saves lives and helps rebuild families,” Christie said in a statement.

Legislators say 85 percent of New Jersey’s doctors are currently registered to access the program’s database but that the registration doesn’t mean practitioners regularly reference the data.

Under the new law the Division of Consumer Affairs would require health care officials who prescribe controlled drugs to participate in the program as part of their registration.

The legislation calls for physicians to consult the online database the first time they prescribe certain controlled drugs, including highly addictive opiates that can lead some users toward stronger drugs like heroin. The doctors also must continue to consult the database at least quarterly for patients who continue getting those medications.

Pharmacists must also check the database before dispensing some medications if there is a reasonable belief the patient is seeking the drug for anything other than a medical condition.

The new law also requires pharmacies to report information to the drug monitoring program every seven days rather than every 30 days.

The legislation is the latest in Christie’s effort against drug abuse, including expansion of the state’s Drug Court as well as a training program for emergency responders in the administration of Narcan, medication used in the treatment of narcotics overdoses.

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