- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s attorney general says his office is drafting regulations to limit the supply of painkillers doctors can initially prescribe to patients, a move that addresses one of the initiatives Gov. Chris Christie laid out in a state of the state speech almost entirely focused on the state’s drug crisis.

Attorney General Christopher Porrino said Wednesday the rules would only allow doctors to prescribe a five-day supply of opioid drugs for acute pain, instead of a 30-day ration. He said his office hopes to get the regulations to the state’s office of administrative law within the next few weeks. Health professionals and others would then have 30 days to comment before the rules go into effect.

Christie said doctors would have to see the patient again after the five days before deciding whether to extend the prescription.

Porrino said he hopes any potential objections or concerns from doctors can be addressed, but that the state has the authority to make the change.

“We think it’s clearly within our authority to pursue this rule-making. I can’t speak for who might want to object or make a challenge but we’ll address that when it comes in,” Porrino said. “We feel though that we have firm ground that we’re standing on here to move these forward on an emergent basis.”

Christie focused almost entirely on fighting the drug scourge during his state of the state address Tuesday, saying he plans in his final year in office to end the stigma of drug addiction and help stem the tide of the drug crisis that is wracking New Jersey and the nation.

A handful of states, including Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, have enacted similar restrictions in the past year. Most of those restrictions allow for initial seven-day supplies of the drugs.

The state Senate approved a measure to do the same in New Jersey last year, but no Assembly committee has taken a vote on it.

Drug treatment advocates say addiction to heroin often begins with a medical prescription for opioid painkillers.

Nearly 1,600 people in New Jersey died from drug overdoses in 2015, an increase of about 20 percent over 2014, according to data from the state medical examiner’s office. Most of those came from opioids, including heroin and fentanyl.

Christie on Tuesday also announced a new drug crisis online site and helpline number, reachnj.gov and 844-ReachNJ.


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