August 31, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced that his Administration has marked a milestone in implementing harm reduction initiatives to combat the state’s opioid crisis. The New Jersey Department of Health signed two standing orders to drastically expand access to naloxone, the lifesaving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, which will more easily enable all licensed pharmacists to dispense any form of an opioid antidote to any individual or entity without an individual prescription and allow for the distribution of naloxone by other entities like Emergency Medical Technicians after they leave the scene of an overdose.
Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Health also launched the New Jersey Overdose Data Dashboard, which displays information about naxolone administrations, substance use treatment admissions, neonatal abstinence syndrome cases, viral hepatitis cases, opioid prescriptions, and drug-related hospital visits. Data can be disaggregated by race/ethnicity, age, gender and county to allow users to identify impacted populations and monitor morbidity and mortality trends in New Jersey. Public health professionals, law enforcement, researchers, journalists, and other community members will be able to use the data to inform their opioid response strategies, conduct research, and apply for future grants. These overdose prevention measures are likely to have a dramatic impact on reducing overdose deaths in New Jersey and reaffirm Governor Murphy’s commitment to ending New Jersey’s opioid epidemic.
“While we are making incredible strides in our fight against the opioid epidemic, we must continue to expand access to harm reduction interventions,” said Governor Murphy. “We have already lost over 2,000 New Jerseyans to suspected overdoses this year, which is why it is critical to strengthen our ability to save lives by preventing overdose deaths and connecting people to supports and treatment.”
Several agencies across the Murphy Administration continue to work collaboratively to combat the opioid crisis. The New Jersey Department of Health’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) grant supports initiatives such as the Attorney General’s Operation Helping Hands, which helps connect individuals with opioid use disorder to necessary recovery services and treatment. Under the OD2A grant, The New Jersey Department of Health continues to expand upon initiatives such as 5 Minutes to Help, a program that trains Emergency Medical Service providers to improve linkages to care for non-fatal overdose victims as well as provides trauma-informed training and support for first responders. Additionally, earlier this month, the New Jersey Department of Human Services distributed more than 24,000 doses of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to 271 law enforcement agencies across New Jersey. Human Services has also given 64,000 free doses to residents at pharmacies and previously distributed 70,000 free doses to police, EMS, homeless shelters, libraries, opioid treatment programs, opioid mobile outreach programs and re-entry organizations.
“On this day, as we honor those lives lost, those communities devasted, and those hearts broken, we take steps to protect those we love from future overdose deaths,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “We have the power to stem the tide of this epidemic. Lifesaving medications such as naloxone along with powerful data tools such as New Jersey Overdose Data Dashboard will help us get to the other side.”
“Our first responders on the front lines of the opioid epidemic are uniquely positioned to distribute naloxone after responding to an overdose in the field,” said Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Dr. David Adinaro. “I am proud to sign these standing orders today that will put more naloxone in the hands of individuals who can respond to overdose – whether it be individuals at risk of overdose or their loved ones.”
“Today, as we remember our friends and family lost to drug overdoses, we also want to give hope to those struggling with addiction. Naloxone saves lives, and the path to recovery is attainable,” Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “As always, I urge residents seeking addiction assistance to call 1-844-ReachNJ, a 24-hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week addictions help line where people facing addiction or their friends and family can get immediate assistance and support from live, New Jersey-based, trained addiction counselors. ReachNJ assists callers regardless of their insurance status. Treatment works, so please don’t hesitate to call.”
“Every life lost to a drug overdose is one too many,” said Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck. “Today, as we recognize and mourn the lives lost, we are taking overdose prevention measures that will undoubtedly spare other families the pain and sorrow so many are feeling today.”
For more information about the Murphy Administration’s comprehensive strategy to combat the opioid crisis view the report released earlier this year, click here.
For more information on ReachNJ, visit reachnj.gov.
To view the DOH Overdose Data Dashboard, click here.
To view the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner’s Public Data Dashboard, click here.