TRENTON, NJ — Law enforcement officials would be able to access New Jersey’s Prescription Monitoring Program without first obtaining a court order or a subpoena, under legislation introduced by Sen. Robert Singer in conjunction with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
The bill, S-3426, would allow police to help people coping with addiction and investigate dealers without delay, according to Singer (R-Monmouth), who represents the 30th Legislative District which includes Belmar and Lake Como.
“Physicians and pharmacists use the NJPMP on a daily basis to stop doctor-shopping and immediately connect people who are suffering with the treatment they need,” Singer said. “Police officers who are tackling the opioid epidemic share those goals, but they don’t have the same, instant access to this lifesaving information. That has to change.”
“In light of the critical role intelligence plays in fighting the opioid epidemic, this bill loosens the restrictions for the collection and analysis of valuable information in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program database,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni explained. “Moreover, it provides law enforcement agencies with access consistent to that of other state regulatory agencies. The bill helps in identifying both users and medical professionals who may be abusing the current prescription system earlier on, perhaps before such abuse results in more fatal overdoses.”
While the measure would allow local, state, and federal law enforcement officers to access prescription monitoring information without first obtaining a court order or subpoena, it would also require the officer to certify that they are currently engaged in a specific investigation of a practitioner, pharmacist or patient.
NJPMP is a statewide database of prescription data on controlled dangerous substances (CDS) and human growth hormone that is dispensed in outpatient settings in New Jersey and by out-of-state pharmacies dispensing into New Jersey. Prescribers are required to check the NJPMP the first time a new patient receives a prescription for a Schedule II CDS and on a quarterly basis thereafter for continuing prescriptions.
Pharmacies have to report information to the database on a daily basis. New prescriptions must be filed into the system no more than one business day after the prescription was dispensed.
Between 2013 and 2016, the number of opioid prescriptions issued in New Jersey dropped 11 percent, in part due to the success of the NJPMP. However, there were still nearly 4.6 million prescriptions written in the state last year.
“Providing local, state and federal law enforcement with immediate access to the NJPMP will expedite investigations into the pill mills and illicit providers that are still funneling drugs into our communities,” Singer said. “The NJPMP has proven to be one of the most effective tools we have to combat New Jersey’s opioid crisis. This legislation is the next logical way to maximize the use of this invaluable resource.”