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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)

Lampitt & Mosquera Bill to Protect Babies, Ensure Safety of “Milk Banks” Advanced by Assembly Panel

May 11, 2015

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Gabriela Mosquera to protect nursing babies as the practice of sharing breast milk through "milk banks" rises in popularity.

Human milk banks are an organized service for the selection of a donor and the collection, processing, storage, and distribution of donated human breast milk to a hospital for use by low birth weight babies or new mothers with delayed lactation, or directly to a parent, with a physician's prescription order, who is unable to nurse, or is in need of additional breast milk to feed the parent's child.

"The practice of sharing breast milk has a long history dating back to the days of wet nurses," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "While modern day 'milk banks' may be a godsend in some cases, breast milk, like blood, is a bodily fluid and should be licensed and regulated with stringent medical and scientific standards."

The lawmakers noted that there are many babies, particularly premature ones, who cannot digest formula properly, making breast milk an imperative and contributing to the rise in popularity of milk banks. However, the limited number of licensed human milk banks in the country has made it hard for families, especially those on a fixed income, to gain access to one.

Christie sticks fork in vegetarian bill

Courier Post
May 8, 2015
Jim Walsh
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Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill Thursday that would have required school districts to consider "culturally sensitive" menu choices for students, including vegetarian fare.

Advocates said the measure, overwhelming approved by the Legislature, would benefit students whose diets reflect religious or cultural restrictions. Among other provisions, it would have require districts to make "all reasonable efforts" to offer hot and cold vegetarian and vegan choices if requested by a student.

But Christie said the measure "would unnecessarily burden" more than 500 school districts across the state.

In a veto message Thursday, he noted the bill would require districts to conduct "food surveys" of middle- and high-school students, and to form an advisory committee if any student indicates an "unmet food preference."

"In light of the many challenges school districts already encounter in order to provide an education worthy of our children's future, I cannot support the additional costs and burdens this bill would impose," Christie said in the statement.

He said parents or students unhappy with cafeteria food could "raise their concerns to the local board of education or elected officials."

The bill won approval by votes of 58-16 in the Assembly and 34-5 in the Senate.