Hunterdon Prosecutor Backs Lance Drug Abuse Action Plan
FLEMINGTON, N.J. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) met with Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III, recently in Flemington to discuss the opioid and drug abuse epidemic. Following the meeting, Kearns gave his support to Lance’s bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4976, The Opioid Review Modernization Act, that reforms and improves the medical drug approval and label process for prescription drugs, a major contributing factor to drug abuse. Lance spearheaded the bill through the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee in Congress. The duo also discussed new strategies and initiatives taken by the Prosecutor’s Office.
“Prosecutor Kearns is a great partner in helping to end the scourge of drug addiction. Too many lives are cut short in New Jersey communities and across the country due to drug abuse. This is an epidemic. Those in Washington and County leaders need to be working together for the benefit of urban and suburban families alike and reduce the strain on law enforcement resources. My bill ensures that our federal health agencies are working in concert with the medical and pharmaceutical communities to combat drug abuse and I am pleased to receive a thorough update from the Prosecutor on his efforts here in Hunterdon County,” said Lance after the meeting.
“I commend Congressman Lance’s efforts to curb this epidemic through his proposed Opioid Review Modernization Act. Making people aware of their own vulnerabilities to opioid abuse and to the dangers these drugs is vital in our efforts to fight against the scourge of addiction. The fight against heroin and opioid abuse must be fought on many fronts. Congressman Lance’s leadership on this front is greatly appreciated and needed,” Kearns said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose — nearly three deaths, every hour, of every single day. There were at least 781 heroin-related deaths in the Garden State in 2014, the most recent data available. Studies show that opioid addiction is tied strongly to prescription drug abuse, and in 2012 health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions to people for opioids. Since 1999, opioid prescriptions have quadrupled and the CDC has found that now more than six out of ten drug overdoses involve opioids.
Lance’s legislation will make sure the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nation’s gatekeeper in approving and vetting patient access to safe and effective drugs and therapies, rigorously reviews the benefits and risks of opioid pain medications and how they are communicated to prescribers and patients. The bill also requires the agency to work closely with expert advisory committees before making critical product approval and labeling decisions and to make recommendations regarding education programs for prescribers of extended-release and long-acting opioids. It would also encourage the development and approval of opioids with abuse-deterrent properties.
For his part, Prosecutor Kearns partnered with Hunterdon Healthcare Systems to equip all law enforcement officers in Hunterdon County with Narcan, a life-saving overdose medication. Prosecutor Kearns was also responsible for launching a new initiative called START, Steps to Action Recovery and Treatment, this new concept was designed to provide direct referral information, contained in a prepared packet, to individuals who may be ensnared in the grips of an addiction or other crisis. Prosecutor has worked closely with the Safe Communities Coalition and other prevention and addiction treatment providers. Prosecutor Kearns was also instrumental in launching LEAP, the Law Enforcement Adolescent Program, an early intervention program for adolescents
“While families, communities and local law enforcement are and should remain on the front lines against addiction, Congress has an important role as well. The federal government should improve and strengthen regulations governing opioid prescriptions,” concluded the 7th District lawmaker.
Lance is also a cosponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and a member of the Combat Heroin Taskforce.