New Jersey tries to end doctor-shopping for opioid prescriptions


New Jersey is trying to end doctor-shopping for opioid prescriptions by streamlining prescribers' access to medical records, state officials said this week.

The state will spend more than $1.2 million in federal Medicaid money to expand a software service that lets doctors and other prescribers instantly access patients' opioid prescription history to see how much they’re getting and when they’re getting it, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office.

The data is already available through the state’s prescription monitoring program, but most doctors must log in, enter their patient's information, then search the system. Attaching prescription histories to the files doctors already pull up during visits would speed the review and give health care professionals a chance to step in if they see signs of substance abuse, the statement said.

OxyContin, an often-prescribed opioid.

“We are providing hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers statewide with enhanced access to a powerful tool to prevent drug addictions from the outset, and intervene before a fatal overdose occurs,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. 

The expansion plan is another prong in the long battle to help those struggling with addiction, many of whom have stumbled during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have said that joblessness, social isolation and stress led to a rise in alcohol use, drug overdoses, relapse rates and calls to state addiction hotlines earlier this year.