Lampitt Bill to Promote Flu Vaccination Awareness Among Seniors Continues Advancing

May 18, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Joseph Lagana, Angelica Jimenez, Tim Eustace and Vince Mazzeo to promote seasonal influenza awareness among New Jersey seniors was approved by the Senate on Monday.

The bill (A-3890) would require the Department of Health to prepare and publish online printer-friendly information about the flu vaccine for older adults.

"Older New Jerseyans are far more susceptible to serious flu-related complications. Because their immune systems are weaker, the flu can result in hospitalization or even death among seniors," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Supplying members of this specific population with the information they need to protect themselves and those around them can keep older residents healthy and save lives."

The information would include items such as:
- How vaccination can help prevent the flu in older adults;
- The availability and efficacy of the flu vaccine for older adults;
- A recommendation that seniors consult with their physicians regarding the flu vaccine; and
- The particular individual and community benefits of vaccination among older adults sharing close quarters, such as residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)

Each CCRC in New Jersey would be required to post the information in a conspicuous public place in the facility no later than August 1 of each year. The provisions of the bill, however, do not require seniors to receive a flu vaccination, the sponsored noted.

Assembly Approved Bill to Make Cost-Effective Biological Drug Alternatives More Widely Available

May 14, 2015

The full Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Daniel Benson, Shavonda Sumter, Angel Fuentes and Nancy Pinkin to make it easier for consumers to obtain more cost-effective, "generic" versions of biological medicines used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, psoriasis and various forms of cancer.

"The FDA has created a safe pathway to make alternative biological medicines more readily available on the market," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "If there is a more cost-effective option to treat and cure various illnesses, then by all means we should be helping patients pursue it."

"Substitution of these biologically similar products for their name-brand counterparts at the pharmacy level is expected to reduce cost by increasing competition," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "Ultimately, this will allow more patients to access treatments."

While New Jersey has allowed chemically-synthesized generic drugs to be substituted for brand-name prescriptions for quite some time because the active ingredients are identical to their brand-name counterparts, biological medicines, on the other hand, are manufactured through biotechnology using living organisms and are much more complex than traditional, chemically-synthesized drugs.


May 13, 2015
Andrew Kitchenman
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Exactly what pharmacists will have to do to meet state regulations when dispensing a new class of drugs -- and whether that’s a necessary step to increase the safety of patients or a waste of money -- has moved to the center of an ongoing legislative lobbying battle.

A bill that would require pharmacists to notify doctors and other prescribers when they substitute a class of drugs known as biologics with substitutes called biosimilars is currently being debated in the state legislature.

Biologics are cultivated from living cells, unlike traditional drugs, which are synthesized in labs. This difference in chemistry means that each biologic is unique, according to industry representatives who argue that’s a key reason why doctors should know each time a pharmacy makes a substitution of a biosimilar for a biologic. Biosimilars are akin to name-brand biologics, but cheaper. While the government is expected to certify that some biosimilars are interchangeable with biologics, they won’t be chemically identical in the same way that generic drugs can be identical to name-brand drugs.

The bill, A-2477/S-1705, is supported by the biotechnology industry, which sees these notices as a necessary step to ensure that doctors are aware that a substitution has been made.

Breast milk banks may be regulated in NJ

May 11, 2015
Phil Gregory
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New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to require breast milk banks be licensed by the state Department of Health.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt is concerned that unregulated, shared breast milk might not be stored at the proper temperature.

"Bacteria can come in to the breast milk, and, when an infant is then receiving breast milk that has a high content of bacteria,it can cause severe problems and sometimes death," said Lampitt, D-Camden, Monday during an Assembly committee hearing.

Lampitt's bill, which would require screening of the milk, would also set standards for processing and storage.

But the measure could discourage milk banks from opening in New Jersey, according to Ellen Maughan with the New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition.

"It does stand to increase costs a bit on a commodity that's really needed for sick babies and is already pretty expensive and is not always covered by insurance," Maughan said at the hearing.

Maughan said funding intended for the regulations in Lampitt's measure would be better spent on a public awareness campaign to promote breastfeeding.

"That money could be put toward increasing breastfeeding rates to lessen the demand for shared or banked human milk," she said.

Fifteen nonprofit breast milk banks in other states now provide supplies to New Jersey hospitals.

Lampitt, Singleton, Mainor & Sumter Bill to Increase Teaching Opportunities, Help Boost Failing Schools Clears Assembly Panel

May 11, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Charles Mainor and Shavonda E. Sumter to increase teaching opportunities for minority men in order to help provide high quality teachers in chronically challenged schools was approved Monday by an Assembly panel.

"If implemented properly, this program could be a win-win to help meet two crucial goals - employing more minority men and providing quality teachers for disadvantaged schools," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington).

The bill (A-1853) would establish a pilot program in the Department of Education (DOE) to recruit and match eligible participants to teach in chronically failing schools under the state's alternate route teacher preparation program. Eligible participants would be male residents of New Jersey who are from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds, interested in pursuing a teaching career, and meet the eligibility criteria for enrolling in the alternate route program.

"This is a great way to help an underrepresented portion of our population find a solid, stable career path while serving as positive role models for students in our failing districts, many of whom are minorities," said Singleton (D- Burlington).

"If we can help create more diversity within our teaching ranks while meeting the needs of our chronically challenged schools, then I think this will be a win for everyone," said Mainor (D-Hudson)