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LEGISLATURE GRAPPLES WITH HOW TO REGULATE BIOLOGICS, NEW CLASS OF MEDICATION

NJSPOTLIGHT
February 6, 2015
Andrew Kitchenman
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In recent years, many of the bestselling new medications haven’t been traditional drugs chemically synthesized in labs. Instead, they belong to a growing class of “biologics” -- substances that are cultivated from living cells, often by altering the DNA that carries genetic information.

Biologics have been a boon to those with a variety of conditions, and are widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis as well as to fight infections in chemotherapy patients. But these products often are expensive to develop and buy, racking up $66.3 billion in sales nationally in 2013. That’s why the 2010 Affordable Care Act included a provision to encourage the development of generic products that would be similar to but cheaper than the name-brand biologics.

New Jersey laws don’t cover how these so-called biosimilars should prescribed, which is why the Legislature is grappling with ways to regulate them. Biologics-industry representatives have supported state-level legislation addressing biosimilars prescriptions across the country. In fact, biosimilars aren’t yet available in the United States but could result in significant savings if the federal Food and Drug Administration approves.

N.J. 'Pay it Forward' task force to study waiving tuition and letting students pay with future earnings

NJ.com
February 6, 2015
Adam Clark
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New Jersey will create a task force to study how to make college more affordable for the state's students under a law signed Thursday.

The commission will study a "Pay it Forward Pilot Program," in which public college and universities could waive tuition and fees in favor of taking a percentage of students' future earnings. It will also study several other ways to reduce college costs, including an accelerated program for high school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

New Jersey's public four year colleges rank among the most expensive in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education rankings.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), one of the bill's cosponsors, said New Jersey needs to better compete with the schools in neighboring states that lure its students.

"This migration hurts our schools and it hurts us as a state since many of these students will take jobs and settle in these states," Lampitt said. "Making our schools more affordable can help us better compete, and keep students who after graduation will help contribute to our economy."

Christie vetoed prior versions of the bill which called for staff from the executive branch to work on the study, because he said it would duplicate work the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education was already doing.

Conaway, Lampitt, Pinkin, Benson, Sumter & Wimberly Bill to Expand Life-Saving Overdose Prevention Act Now Law

February 5, 2015

A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway Jr., Pamela Lampitt, Nancy Pinkin, Daniel Benson, Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly to help save more lives by granting immunity to emergency responders and other critical frontline professionals who administer overdose antidotes has been signed into law.

"When seconds count, a well-meaning individual should not have to think twice about helping someone in need due to a fear that it ultimately may result in being held culpable for wrongdoing," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This law is about making sure that more men and women who are willing and able to assist an individual during an emergency can do so without hesitation."

Specifically, the law (A-3720) extends the immunity provisions of the Overdose Prevention Act to certain professionals and professional entities that administer or dispense opioid antidotes, including sterile syringe access program employees, law enforcement officials, emergency medical technicians and other paid or volunteer emergency responders, safeguarding them from liability if they in good faith administer an antidote like naloxone, known also by its brand name Narcan, in the event of an emergency. Such antidotes counteract the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system opioids cause and can prevent death during an overdose.

Democratic Bill Creating Commission to Study, Recommend Ways to Make NJ Colleges More Affordable Now Law

February 5, 2015

A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Dan Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Paul Moriarty, Benjie Wimberly and Carmelo G. Garcia to create a task force charged with studying different ways to help make college more affordable for New Jersey students has been signed into law.

"Rising tuition costs are placing unbearable financial burdens on New Jersey college students and families," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The findings of the commission have the potential to open doors for students who otherwise could not afford a college education. Making higher education more affordable not only helps these students, but the state, which benefits from a well-educated workforce."

"It is a terrible tragedy when our best and brightest cannot further their education due to the rising cost of college tuition," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "The commission will examine all avenues to make higher education in New Jersey more affordable and accessible to our students."

"We lose many of our high school graduates to colleges and universities in other states. This migration hurts our schools and it hurts us as a state since many of these students will take jobs and settle in these states," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Making our schools more affordable can help us better compete, and keep students who after graduation will help contribute to our economy. This new law will help us accomplish this goal."

Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera & Stender Bill to Create Sexual Assault Victims' Rights Act Clears Assembly Panel

February 5, 2015

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester) and Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) to establish the Sexual Assault Victims' Rights Act and give victims access to information pertinent to their cases.

"Many sexual assault victims find the criminal justice system less forthcoming than it should be with information about their cases, which can leave them feeling victimized all over again," said Vainieri Huttle. "This affirms that victims have the right to relevant information about their cases."

The bill (A-3936) would require sexual assault victims to be notified of certain developments concerning the evidence in their cases. Specifically, the bill would expand the state's Crime Victim's Bill of Rights to give sexual assault victims the right to be informed if

- a DNA profile of an assailant was obtained from the processing of evidence in the sexual assault case
- a DNA profile of an assailant has been entered into any data bank designed or intended to be used for the retention or comparison of case evidence
- there is a match between the DNA profile of an assailant obtained in the sexual assault case to any DNA profile contained in any data bank designed or intended to be used for the retention or comparison of case evidence; and
- sexual assault evidence is submitted to a forensic laboratory, if that evidence is compared against any data bank, and the results of the comparison.