TRENTON, NJ – Opioid based drug overdoses are once again on the rise in New Jersey and the state’s top health official, Judith Persichilli says it’s in part, because of the declining state of mental health. Persichilli said the Governor’s extended stay-at-home order, social isolation and job loss are all serious contributing factors to the sharp spike in opioid-related deaths in 2020.
That’s not even the bad news. The bad news is that the state expects the number to continue to climb.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The virus is still circulating, and we have a role to play in reducing the spread of that disease. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the department is also concerned that the overdose epidemic will not only persist but will worsen,” Persichilli said. “Social isolation, grief and job loss are just some of the factors that could contribute to an increase in deaths. This year, there have already been 1,339 suspected overdose deaths, which is up 20% from 2019. We do not want to see this trend continue.”
She noted that the state department of health is watching the situation closely as the overdose epidemic once again in New Jersey.
“The Department of Health continues to be vigilant in monitoring overdose data and promoting access to treatment and care. To better inform preventive and recovery initiatives in our state, today the department is releasing a request for applications from local health departments for funding to help them study patterns of overdose in their communities,” she said. “Local health departments are eligible to receive grant awards of $100,000 to establish overdose fatality review teams. These multidisciplinary, countywide teams will analyze data, identify regional trends, and evaluate strategies to decrease opioid deaths. Local health officials know more about how the epidemic is affecting their communities. They can more effectively direct policies, practices and partnerships to prevent future overdoses, and allocate prevention resources and services where they would do most good.”
Things aren’t looking better for the future in New Jersey as two “Big Pharma” politicians battle head to head in the U.S. Senate election. Former Democrat and Barack Obama era FDA employee Rikin Mehta is pushing his agenda on the campaign trail to bring opioid production back to New Jersey pharmaceutical manufacturers. Mehta was the head of compliance at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, according to his campaign website.
On the other side of the aisle, you have Cory Booker, whose political campaigns are heavily backed by the pharmaceutical industry.