- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) - Calling it the most important expansion yet of a prescription drug monitoring program, Gov. Chris Christie announced on Tuesday that New Jersey and New York will share records on the sales of dangerous drugs.

Christie, a Republican, and Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the change on Tuesday. Christie spoke during a news conference at Englewood Hospital in Bergen County.

New York’s participation in the program brings the number of states working with New Jersey to seven, including Delaware, Connecticut and Virginia. Christie said New York has been involved for about eight days and already has made about 16,000 information requests of the database, compared with 30,000 requests in the first three months of 2015.

The database contains the names of patients, doctors, pharmacies and other information and allows health care workers to search a patient’s prescription patterns and determine whether they’re “doctor shopping,” or going to different doctors to get narcotics.

“To us it’s the single most important expansion we’ve had so far because of the size of the physician and health care community in New York, the amount of time that people in New Jersey spend at times accessing health care in New York and the fact that they’re our largest neighbor.”

Christie says the partnership is another step toward combatting heroin and opioid addiction.

Cuomo said in a statement that prescription drug abuse affects families nationwide and added the partnership would “stem the epidemic.”

Christie has made fighting drug addiction a central part of his two terms as governor, establishing the New Jersey database, which has been registered for use by 96 percent of licensed doctors in the state, in 2011.

He also gained attention on the presidential campaign trail when a video of the governor talking emotionally about the death of a friend with a prescription drug problem got millions of views.

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