WASHINGTON, DC—The bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 that passed today out of the Senate HELP committee included provisions written by Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) which will support hospitals and emergency departments in identifying and implementing best practices for alternatives to the use of opioids.

The provision included in this comprehensive bill aimed at addressing the opioid crisis is from Booker and Menendez’s bipartisan Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act, which was also cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and introduced by Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) in the House of Representatives.

Earlier this week, Sens. Menendez and Booker, along with Rep. Pascrell, visited St. Joseph’s Medical Center, whose emergency department implemented a successful alternatives to opioids program in 2016 that would serve as a national model under their legislation, and which decreased emergency department opioid prescriptions by 82 percent in its first two years alone.

“The doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center understand that tackling the opioid epidemic gripping New Jersey and the nation starts with how we treat and manage pain,” said Sen. Menendez. “More often than not it’s people in pain abusing opioid painkillers that leads to dependency, addiction, experimentation with illicit drugs like heroin, or something more tragic, overdose. Stemming the tide and saving lives requires a comprehensive approach that includes both addiction treatment and prevention.”

“The opioid epidemic is devastating families and communities in New Jersey and across the country and demands our urgent action,” said Sen. Booker. “The provisions we contributed to this comprehensive, bipartisan bill are based on the success of a New Jersey hospital that recognized the power of prevention and innovative approaches when it comes to effectively attacking this epidemic. We’re excited to see this approach included in ALTO as we work to ensure that this success is replicated in communities across the country.”

In 2016, Sens. Menendez and Booker, and Rep. Pascrell joined hospital officials for the announcement of St. Joseph’s ALTO program, as well as a roundtable discussion with health professionals and advocates to discuss ways to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic.