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Barclay, Benson & Mazzeo Bill to Help More Police Departments Combat Heroin Overdoses Gains Committee OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Arthur Barclay, Vince Mazzeo and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to facilitate the bulk purchase of the life-saving heroin and opioid antidote Narcan by the state for distribution to local first responders was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.

“In Camden County alone, police officers have saved hundreds of lives because they had Narcan available on the scene,” said Barclay (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Our law enforcement officers need to have this antidote on hand so that they are equipped to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.”

The bill (A-4025) would authorize the attorney general to negotiate directly with drug companies to secure the most favorable price for the bulk purchase of a heroin antidote – the most common of which is naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan – on behalf of all law enforcement entities, emergency response entities and other public entities statewide.

New Jersey negotiated a significant discount for Narcan in 2015, resulting in a 20 percent cost reduction per dosage for police departments and other public first responder entities on average. This agreement, however, only applied to purchases made before May 31, 2016.

“We have proof that using the state’s immense purchasing power to buy Narcan in bulk can cut costs for local governments without sacrificing their access to a life-saving resource,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “With the price of naloxone steadily increasing in the midst of an opioid epidemic in New Jersey, it’s critical for our state to seek practical ways to continue saving lives.”

“Atlantic County had the highest per capita rate of fatal heroin overdoses in the entire state in 2015,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Thankfully, Narcan works and can help solve this tragic problem. Allowing the state to negotiate and get the lowest possible price is about making sure that New Jersey uses taxpayer dollars most efficiently so that first responders can save more lives.”

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, of which Benson is chair.