New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says a public-private partnership will help combat an opioid epidemic that's killing thousands of people across the country.
Christie says leaders of 17 pharmaceutical companies and government agencies intend to work together to fast-track development of new non-opioid medications for pain.
Dr. Francis Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health. He's excited about the effort but says it'll be difficult.
"If we had found an easy way to develop alternatives to opioids that were just as potent but weren't addictive, that would have happened already. So this is going to take every bit of the energy and creativity of the sectors that are now committed to doing so. But watch us and see what we can do."
Steve Ubl is CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America, which represents biopharmaceutical research companies. He says the industry is passionate about getting alternative medications to patients more quickly.
“Our companies have over 40 compounds under development but there are silos and barriers to information sharing, clinical trial design issues, that can be modified to make ensure that those products make their way to patients more expeditiously.”
There’s no indication just how long that could take.
Christie says he'll be holding a series of events this week to discuss his plan to shift $200 million from New Jersey's budget for new substance abuse and treatment initiatives.
“It will not be done with a supplemental appropriation. We’ve identified the resources to do it. And very fortunately the legislature was good enough in the budget to put language that gives me the authority to move money from any budget line anywhere in the budget to address a public health crisis.”
The plan will target treatment and prevention for the uninsured, Medicaid recipients, babies born with addiction, and their mothers.