POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Christie hopes state Opioid Task Force report will inform federal effort

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

Cruz: We are still unpacking this report from the governor’s Drug Abuse Control Task Force released late Tuesday afternoon. It’s got over 40 recommendations and it’s affecting everyone from children, to expectant mothers, to inmates in state prisons. Here’s a little bit about what’s in it.

Christie: This report contains 40 recommendations that touch on education, prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery and re-entry. The work of the Task Force has already inspired several groundbreaking initiatives, many of which I rolled out this past month. Going forward, it will serve as a blueprint for further work that needs to be done both in New Jersey and across the nation.

Cruz: One of the other recommendations in the report concerns Narcan and how it’s being administered.

Christie: It’s widely known that naloxone, or Narcan, can save lives when properly deployed to someone experiencing an overdose. First responders have reported to us that 4 milligrams of Narcan is needed to counteract the effects of fentanyl, which is becoming more and more prevalent and is stronger than normal opioids. Although civilians can obtain 4 milligrams doses of Narcan, shockingly not all EMTs are permitted to use more than 2 milligram doses of Narcan. The task force recognized the need for change and I fully agree. Today I’m announcing that the Department of Health will be revising all EMT guidelines to permit our first responders to carry 4 milligram doses of Narcan so that they can save even more lives.

Cruz: As far as what impact the governor thinks this effort is having, today [Tuesday] he was cautiously optimistic at best.

Christie: My guess is, and it’s only a guess, but my guess is that we’re going to see deaths go up the next couple of years rather than go down. I think we’re on the wrong side of the curve here. We’re just combating this at a time when it’s just becoming exponentially more prevalent. I think that what we hope to see, what I’d hope to see from the efforts that we’re putting in, is a slowing of the rate of increase in the next year or two and then a decline after that. But that’s going to take vigilance by the next administration to do the things that we’ve been doing, and maybe even more depending upon what new steps, and treatment modalities, and prevention strategies are available that we don’t know about today. But I wouldn’t say that we can really notice a difference. I think the most that we can say is that we have people talking about it.

Cruz: The governor said that a lot of these recommendations will come up at the next meeting of the president’s Opioid Task Force. He said that a lot of these programs can be scaled to a national level.