NJ Launches Drug Abuse Database

TRENTON, N.J. (AP)— More than five years after New Jersey passed a law to start tracking prescription drug use, the state is launching a long-awaited database monitoring use of dangerous drugs with the intent of helping doctors spot abusers more quickly and authorities stop drug dealers.

The database has been collecting information since Sept. 1; to date, more than 4 million prescriptions have been entered. Starting this month, doctors and pharmacies, including mail-order operations, can access detailed patient information on prescriptions for painkillers, steroids, sedatives and stimulants.

“It’s going to allow us to track all prescription filled in the state of New Jersey and into the state of New Jersey by pharmacies that ship into the state,” said Thomas Calcagni, the director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, which will oversee the database.

Including New Jersey, 40 states have such a program, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

The number of Americans who abuse prescription drugs is greater than those who use cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined, according to a 2009 federal survey on drug use.

Push to get the New Jersey program operating became more of a priority following a series of stories by The Star-Ledger of Newark last year that exposed widespread abuse of steroids and human growth hormone by police and firefighters.

“There are benefits coming to this late in the game,” Calcagni said. “We’ve learned a lot from their mistakes.”

For example, unlike many of the other states, human growth hormone prescriptions will be tracked.

Law enforcement agencies will have access to the information, but only after obtaining a court order declaring probable cause, a higher standard than in most other states, which only require the search be related to an active investigation.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey division “is committed to fighting the prescription drug problem with every available tool possible in order to protect our citizens,” said Brian Crowell, special agent in charge of the division. He called the database invaluable in helping stop the spread of drugs.

The program cost $244,000 to set up and will cost $177,000 a year to maintain, but authorities say it will save much more by spotting abusers. The costs are covered in large part through a $350,000 federal grant. Optimum Technology of Columbus, Ohio, was chosen to oversee the database.

New Jersey’s program will be more proactive in looking for abuse than many other states where the onus is placed on the doctors and pharmacists to contact law enforcement when they see suspicious activity, Calcagni said. His division will monitor the database for outliers and signs of abuse, warning doctors when patients exceed certain thresholds.

Prescription drug use has been steadily growing in New Jersey and around the country, surpassing cocaine and heroin use, and falling only second to marijuana use.

In 2010, there were more than 7,200 people in New Jersey who were admitted to certified substance abuse treatment programs as a result of prescription painkiller abuse, an increase of nearly 2,000 from the previous year and up more than 5,000 from 2005, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

What do you think of the Garden States latest move in the battle against prescription drug abuse? Leave your thoughts in our comments section below…

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • royallen

    O.K. so after they identify the abusers,what are they going to do with them……….

    • Rich

      I hate to say this but I hope they cut them off in some kind of program. Pharmaceuticals should pic up the tab and be held responsible for distribution practices. Nail the crooked docs to the wall. The abusers tend to be people who start out truly needing the scripts. More n more they need more untill they are in denial. I replied to you because you didn’t rant about everyone and the Gov’t. Buy reading these coments you can almost tell who really vhas a problem. My cousin went from back pains to full blown addiction. OD’ed and was found dead in bed. 19 yrs old and a waste of a wonderful kid. My nephew 28 yrs old sarted out with foot pain. 1 yr full blown addiction, family allienation. Totl denial. What we have been told is “Have him arrested” Drug record just might save his life. He’s hiding and out of touch with the entire family. We are all affraid of the bad news we know might be coming. Frustrated and sorry about my rant, it is too close to home for uncle Rick.

  • Damien Woodi

    All opiates like darvon, morphine, demerol, hydromorphone, lorcet, lortab, tylox, hydrocodone and others are all narcotic in nature and so have the potential for abuse. These are prescription medicines and are prescribed only when needed by the patients however drug abusers often acquire it and abuse such medicines. These recreational drugs are not easily available over the counter and market but can be availed online. They have many side effects which include impairment of thinking and reasoning ability, insomnia, sedation, drowsiness, lack of coordination of movements, seizures or convulsions, nausea, vomiting and many more. These often lead to respiratory depression.


    • rich

      DW, These are not recreational drugs. Pot is yet no one dies from some recreational weed. The abusers got doctor shopping, pay cash at the pharmacies. Literally needing more n more. Thes people need help and are in denial. You didn’t leave out to many side effects. I personally lost a 19 yr old cousin and now my 28 yr old nephew is pushing his luck onto morphine next is heroin. feeling helpless in nj god bless all of them.

  • MJP

    Once again this is invasion of privacy. I cant figure out why the actions of a few result in everyone being punished. If you OD one drugs good for you, you deserve it. A few abuse persciption drugs govenment invade everyones privacy, A shooting take place its the guns fault, terrorist on 911 take down planes and now it ok for the TSA to rape me as part of security. how about severe a strick and severe punishment for the offender. Oh I forgot that would be the right way and the easy way. I would bet my life that these rules dont apply to the maggots that come up with these laws.

  • MJP

    Once again this is invasion of privacy. I cant figure out why the actions of a few result in everyone being punished. If you OD one drugs good for you, you deserve it. A few abuse persciption drugs govenment invade everyones privacy, A shooting take place its the guns fault, terrorist on 911 take down planes and now it ok for the TSA to rape me as part of security. how about severe a strick and severe punishment for the offender. Oh I forgot that would be the right way and the easy way. I would bet my life that these rules dont apply to the magggots that come up with these laws.

    • Rich

      do you really think these addicts who have familys and family even haave control over their actions. Get real you putz people ard dying and the can’t all be bad. What you need is a good case of withdrawals. But your too good for that right Mr. they deserve it. A few more choice words for you.You should be punished for your lack of humanity nasty buthole

  • mel

    I have read plenty of articles over the past few months. You shouldn’t assume that I haven’t done any research. The shortage is due to increase in demand and lack of raw materials. The DEA only allows a certain amount that can be produced each year. You can also go to http://www.FDA.gov and look at the shortages and read the reasons

  • been there

    It’s the people who shop doctors, pay cash, hurt themselves and blame everyone else. Pain starts out and progresses into higher doses, a lose,lose situation. People die and I think a few are missing the point, or not yet addmitting to themselves. This keeping tract may save someones life … Isn’t that the big picture here??

    • rich

      Yes it is friend, someone who see’s I trully agree love you!!!!!

  • jerseyjoey

    A message to big Gov, maybe you liars should check the congress and senate in washington and all 50 states first with your new Prescription drug database, Ha you know what you will find Dont you. Just yet another example of over reaction on our powers to be. After all they have lost the war on illegal drugs flooding the country so to look like they are justifed in bleeding the tax payer they are going after a soft target that they can controll and say ( look at us we are wonderfull, we arrested thousands of drug users arent we worth it), Sad state this counry has found itself in.

  • mel

    I think it’s a good idea because there are drug shortages due to abuse. For example, there is a major adderall shortage because a lot college kids (who don’t need it) abuse it. It’s greatly affecting a lot of patients who really need it. I am one of those patients. The shortage is very stressful, frustrating and upsetting for me. Something needs to change.

    • jerseyjoey

      Shortages are a corp pre planned move by drug manufacturers and the drug middle man suppliers (not College Students or anyone else) Where there is money you will find that not all are crooks and the fringes but legal businessmen and liar polititians along with the VC and wallstreet greed mongers. You should do your research before posting such nonsense.

  • Adam Mack

    ”NJ lauching drug abuse database.”

  • buttbisquit

    Gov. GET THE F%^&&*K out of our lives.

    • Kat


      • Red Rich

        Buttbisquit, Kat, Intelligent comments from 2 people who probably take too many pills now. Come one people die from this garbage. Every thing in moderation doesn’t mean you need more n more n more. What are you guys pounding into your systems every day. Try us, be honest, We know denial and blame is so much easier. Don’t worry , ther are enough body bags to go around for you two. God Bless

  • mj

    i think if they feel ” something” is not right with someone filling multiple prescriptions, they can always check the drs records to see why someone has numerous refills and if it is for a legitimate medical condition like chronic pain but you know politicians and their knee jerk over reactions to EVERYTHING ……not to mention the police thinking that EVERYONE is a potential criminal…. i guess time will tell

  • Rich F.

    This is a double edged sword. As Larry posted there are some chronic conditions that require higher than normal doses of some medications. For example a POST-OP patient may need a larger dose of pain meds to be comfortable. Also what about the people with mental illness. The psych meds rarely work at the manufacturer’s suggested levels.

    All in all its a good idea, but there has to be some human oversight to ensure the people who need the medications can receive it.

  • Larry Schwarz

    I think it’s a good idea.But remember there are cancer patients and those recovering from surgery that need this medication.As long as NJ does not turn this into a witch hunt.Doctors who treat Cancer patients and Surgeons do write a lot of pain meds that their patients need.This is ok to stop abuse,it should not be about telling doctors how to practice medicine.

    • Red Rich

      YES Larry, I’m on your side. All valid points, this law is not even going to affect thes patients or doctors. They have to find the doctor shopping, cash paying (because insurance can’t see cash), crooked docs paid for writting scripts. Lets hope for the best and maybe my nephew won’t die from abuse. my second cousin did couple yrs ago. Thanx for having something intelligent to say.God Bless Rich out

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