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Making sure new medicines are safe

The Jersey Journal
March 9, 2015
Joan Quigley
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Most of the pills and injectable medications you take today are made from inert materials in a lab somewhere, but the stuff you may take next year could be made from body cells or plants. They work really well. Perhaps they'll even cure your problem, but currently they are very expensive.

You've heard about them - new kinds of medicine used to treat cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and other debilitating diseases - but you may not know that something very like them will be widely available soon and more affordable. They're called biologics and the oldest of them are coming off patent very soon. So pharmaceutical companies all over the world have developed less expensive versions and want to hit the U.S. market as quickly as possible.

Government at both the federal and state level is grappling with the issue of how to substitute the expensive drugs with the newer versions while ensuring the substitutes work without causing harm. The first issue was what to call them. Cheaper versions of original drugs with inert ingredients are called generics, which means they are virtually identical to the original and work in exactly the same way.

New Emergency Alerts Would Help Find Missing NJ Residents with Disabilities

February 23, 2015
Andrew Kitchenman
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New Jersey has Amber Alerts to help find missing children. Silver Alerts are for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. MVP Emergency Alerts could be on the way for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Advocates for the new alert system say that residents with these disabilities sometimes wander away from their families or caregivers, but can be ignored by passersby who aren’t aware of their conditions, potentially putting their lives at risk.

That’s why legislators are looking to institute the state’s third emergency alert system as a way of stopping missing-persons crises and save lives.

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Burlington and Camden) said at a hearing on a bill (A-2709/S-2668) that would create the system that while she wasn’t aware of incidents in the state that would have benefited from having the system in place, she wanted to be proactive and prevent crises.

“These individuals when they become flustered, they become upset, they can become very non-approachable,” Lampitt said, adding that other people -- including police officers -- may believe that they’re acting irrationally due to drug or alcohol use. “They’re irrational because they’re scared,” she added.

Eustace, Spencer, Lampitt & Benson Bill to Help State Facilities Go Green Clears Assembly Panel

March 24, 2015

Measure Would Oversee the Transition to Environmentally Sustainable, Energy Efficient Practices at All State Offices

Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, L. Grace Spencer, Pamela Lampitt and Daniel Benson sponsored to help New Jersey "go green" by maximizing the environmental sustainability of state offices recently was approved by an Assembly panel.

Specifically, the bill (A-4047) would create an Office of Sustainability in the Department of the Treasury that would be responsible for developing and implementing environmental sustainability measures in all state buildings and coordinating with the owners of property in which state agencies are located in an effort to implement environmental sustainability practices in those buildings.

"Pursuing sustainability, and the healthier, non-toxic, energy efficient products that go along with it, will ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone throughout New Jersey," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This approach should also be embraced as a responsible economic tool given the cost savings associated with sustainable materials. This is a sound, long-term investment for our future."

Environmental sustainability is a concept that provides for economic growth without an adverse impact upon the environment.

Assembly Panel Approves Bill to Help Bring Food Assistance Program Directly to Residents after Chronic Programming Delays

March 24, 2015

An Assembly panel has approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to establish an enrollment program to help make sure New Jersey's most vulnerable families get the food assistance they need.

The bill (A-4090) would establish the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment program in the Department of Human Services (DHS).

"We need to be more creative in making sure this program works for the people who need it most because clearly the long-running approach has not been working," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Long delays and a lack of communication have left many needy families in the lurch. This will help provide more clarity and make sure more residents are aware of this critical assistance."

The bill was designed to help combat New Jersey's "chronically poor performance" in administering the SNAP program. Reports last summer ranked the state 52nd out of 53 state agencies nationwide in terms of timeliness when it comes to processing applications for the program.

"These changes will bring this program directly to residents, make them more aware of it, and help them enroll onsite," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Hopefully this will help alleviate some of the issues that have forced some of our most vulnerable residents to wait an exorbitant amount of time to find out if they qualify for crucial assistance to help feed their families."

Mazzeo, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera & Benson Bill to Allow Service Animals to Board School Buses Signed Into Law

March 23, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Dan Benson to allow students with disabilities to bring service animals onto school buses in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.

"This will ensure that New Jersey aligns with what federal law prescribes," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "What's more important, however, is our commitment to ensuring that students with disabilities can have the highest quality of life possible and access the same opportunities as their peers."

The new law (A-3690) will expand state law to allow students with disabilities to board a school bus with a service animal. Previous law only permitted students with disabilities to enter classrooms and school grounds with service animals. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in services provided by state and local government entities.

"For certain students with disabilities, service animals are required for optimal learning and development," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "If a student needs a service animal in school and is allowed to have that, it is common sense to allow the student to bring the service animal onto the school bus as well."