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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, the Division of Consumer Affairs, and the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies ("NJ CARES") Jan. 16 announced enhancements to the NJ Prescription Monitoring Program (“NJ PMP”) that make it easier for prescribers and pharmacists to identify and manage patients at risk for controlled substance abuse and misuse.

According to a release, New Jersey prescribers and pharmacists can now track patients’ use of controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”) on a new NJ PMP platform that automatically examines the data on file, analyzes it, and generates an interactive, patient-centered report with visual enhancements – including patient risk alerts – to ensure that patients are not being overprescribed opioid pain medications that can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. 

The recently launched “NarxCare” platform is the latest NJ PMP enhancement paid for with funds from the $100 million that the Murphy Administration committed to combatting the opioid epidemic in FY2019. 

“We're using the latest technology to fight the opioid crisis, and that includes our new NarxCare platform," stated Grewal. "It is yet another tool as we work to end addiction and save lives."

New Jersey law requires prescribers and pharmacists to review a patient’s prescription history prior to prescribing and dispensing highly addictive opioid pain medications and other CDS that, when used in conjunction with opioids, can place patients at a higher risk of fatal overdoses.

The NarxCare platform makes that job easier by aggregating and analyzing prescription information from providers and pharmacies and presenting the information in color-coded graphics that provide an instant, easy-to-read “visual snapshot” of a patient’s CDS history.

The program automatically provides “clinical alerts” notifying practitioners when a patient’s safety may be at risk, such as when a patient is obtaining or filling CDS prescriptions from multiple prescribers and pharmacies, is receiving daily morphine levels that exceed limits recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), is being prescribed opioid and benzodiazepine medications simultaneously, or has been receiving opioid medications for more than 90 consecutive days. 

The NarxCare platform also facilitates collaboration and coordination of patient care by enabling direct messaging - including the transmission of documents - among the prescribers and pharmacists who use the NJ PMP, and by allowing users to include “care notes” that add critical patient information to the platform such as history of overdose, specific medication restrictions, caregiver support, and other relevant clinical or social information.

Practitioners can also use the NarxCare platform to search for addiction treatment providers in proximity to a patient’s address and to access opioid-related educational materials, which can be printed out and given to patients at the time of a visit.

“For the physicians and pharmacists serving on the front lines of the addiction crisis, this new technology helps them carry out their responsibilities faster, more efficiently, and with deeper patient insight,” stated Sharon M. Joyce, director of NJ CARES.

“Not only will they be able to quickly access information critical to the well-being of their patients, they now have the ability to communicate and collaborate with other medical professionals to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care without being placed at risk. And when a patient is in need of addiction treatment services, they can readily provide available options.”

“These enhancements make the NJ PMP an even more robust and user-friendly clinical tool,” stated Paul R. Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Since the establishment of the NJ PMP in 2011, we have been enhancing and strengthening the program to give prescribers and pharmacists greater ability to prevent the abuse, misuse, and diversion of opioid drugs. As a result of these and other efforts, the number of opioid dosages dispensed in this state has dropped by more than a third over the last five years, with the goal of preventing new addictions from taking root and saving lives.”

The NJ PMP is considered a vital component in New Jersey’s fight to end the opioid addiction crisis that claimed more than 3,000 lives last year. Recent upgrades and enhancements to the program, funded by the Murphy Administration, have further expanded the NJ PMP’s addiction-fighting capabilities.

Those enhancements include the addition of a new reporting field that allows pharmacists to record information about individuals picking up prescriptions and report suspicious behaviors that may indicate prescription drug diversion; and the expansion of NJ PMP access to include certain mental health practitioners providing treatment for substance abuse to patients at residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment centers licensed by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.   

The NJ PMP now contains records of more than 102 million prescriptions dispensed in New Jersey. Each record in the database contains over one hundred unique data elements including, but not limited to, the names and addresses of the patient, prescriber, and pharmacy; drug dispensing date; type, days’ supply, and quantity of medication; and method of payment.

NJ law requires prescribers to perform a patient query via the NJPMP the first time they prescribe a Schedule II CDS or any opioid for acute or chronic pain; the first time they prescribe a benzodiazepine; and on a quarterly basis during the period of time the patient continues to receive the aforementioned prescription medications. Prescribers and pharmacists must also perform a patient query via the NJPMP any time they believe that a patient may be seeking CDS for any purpose other than the treatment of an existing medical condition.

Seventeen states/territories – Connecticut, Delaware, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, North Carolina, Washington D.C., and Maryland – share data with the NJPMP, providing New Jersey practitioners with even greater insight into the prescription histories of their patients.

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