NJ paramedics first in US authorized to administer buprenorphine
New Jersey’s Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal approved the state’s 21 mobile intensive care units carry the drug to reduce overdose deaths
By EMS1 Staff
WASHINGTON — New Jersey paramedics will begin administering buprenorphine to revived overdose patients in a new two-prong approach towards providing improved long-term treatment to patients with drug addictions.
According to Stat News, New Jersey’s Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal approved the state’s 21 mobile intensive care units to carry the drug or a generic equivalent in an effort to reduce overdose deaths, the first state in the nation to do so.
New Jersey’s paramedics will need to get permission from the emergency physician on duty before administering the drug during an overdose call and the physician is required to have a DEA waiver to prescribe buprenorphine.
Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a University of California, San Francisco, professor, said the buprenorphine will bind the same brain receptions that opioids use for pain, making this process a “softer landing” for the patient after naloxone is administered.
Several U.S. medical groups have advocated deregulation of buprenorphine, pointing out that France successfully reduced opioid deaths in the country after the deregulation of buprenorphine.
Still, two major challenges remain unclear under the program: patient consent and cost. Patients need to give permission to take the drug and some may be in a semi-conscious state before the drug is administered.
It is also not clear if the cost will prove to be a challenge as patients who are prescribed the drug will be billed the same way as when paramedics administer drugs that treat insulin shock.