SENATE PANEL ADVANCES MUÑOZ COST SAVING BIOLOGIC MED BILL

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to reduce the cost of medications that treat debilitating diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS) by allowing pharmacists to substitute generic (biosimilar) forms of biological drugs was advanced today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Biological products (biologics) are medications created from living cells (animal, yeast, plant) rather than through traditional chemistry, which produces chemical pills. They are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. While a (chemical) generic medication is identical to a brand named drug, replication of an identical biologic by another manufacturer is nearly impossible.

“Generic versions of these drugs which are used to treat potentially life-threatening diseases and painful conditions, can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “At the same time, since a pharmacist may substitute a similar form of the medication, it’s important that doctors are aware of such substitutions. This measure ensures the safety and effectiveness of biological drugs.”

Muñoz said the legislation, A-2477, is needed to ensure that once the FDA has approved a biosimilar as “interchangeable” with a biologic, a law is in place to address the issue of substitution. Currently, the only biosimilar product approved by the FDA in the U.S. is Zarxio. Manufactured by Sandoz, it is the generic version of Neupogen, made by Amgen, Inc. It is used to treat patients with certain types of cancers and related illnesses, but has not yet been approved as an “interchangeable” product. “Interchangeable” means that pharmacists may substitute a biosimilar for a biologic.

Under the bill, a pharmacist who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar is required to notify the prescribing physician of the substitution within five business days after dispensing the medications and provide the name and manufacturer of the product.

Muñoz noted that only Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts have passed similar legislation. Should the measure become law and, as more biosimilars become available, New Jersey would be at the forefront of providing cost effective medications for patients with debilitating diseases. She added that both generic and brand manufacturers support the bill.

MUÑOZ HOSTS KEAN UNIVERSITY ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, led a panel discussion today on domestic violence hosted by Kean University’s Center for History, Politics, & Policy. Muñoz organized the roundtable which included leading nursing organizations, practitioners and professors. The group discussed the education and role of nurses in dealing with domestic violence.“I am committed to addressing the issue of domestic violence and its far reaching effects on our society. I understand the unique and important position nurses occupy in our health system,” said Muñoz. “I want victims of domestic violence to know that they can openly discuss this issue with any nurse. The exchange of information and approaches used in counseling victims is a tremendous benefit for both nurses and those they treat.”

The roundtable included the following organizations: New Jersey League of Nursing; New Jersey State Nurses Association; Society of Psychiatric APN’s; New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault; New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women; New Jersey State School Nurses Association; Kean University School of Nursing; Rutgers University School of Nursing; Barnabas Health; and St. Joseph’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center.

REMEMBERING ALL WHO SERVED OUR NATION

On May 25, Americans at home and abroad will pause to observe Memorial Day.  Since the first observation on May 5, 1868, then called Declaration Day, it has been a day to remember, reflect upon, and appreciate those who sacrificed and gave their lives to defend our right to freedom in the United States.  We owe our thanks and honor to those who served in conflict to protect our land and to keep America the land of the free for over two hundred years.

Memorial Day is a time for remembrance for the men and women who fought in America’s battles, and we acknowledge the tremendous contributions of those serving in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and the Coast Guard.  There is another group that I would like to highlight, a group of service men and women who are often overlooked in the discussions about those who served our country.

Many associate the United States Merchant Marines with the role they play in the day-to-day operations on the seas in service of our national and global economies.  Rarely mentioned is the role Mariners have played in supporting our war efforts dating back to the American Revolution.  Since the time of the Revolutionary War through our current War on Terror, the Merchant Marines have carried critical supplies, equipment, and personnel to our Armed Forces, often through dangerous waters. The sacrifices of Mariners during World War II sailing through waters well-covered by German U-boats reflect the dangers that these servicemen encountered in duty to their country.  One of every twenty-four Mariners lost their lives during the war, by far the highest casualty rate of any service group.

Two crewmembers of the SS Stephen Hopkins—Captain Paul Buck and Midshipman Edwin Joseph O’Hara—were posthumously awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal for their role in sinking the German commerce raider Stier.  Despite just one four-inch gun in defense against the heavily armed Nazi cruiser, the Hopkins crew sank the enemy’s ship, before going under itself.  The few American survivors floated on a lifeboat for more than a month before reaching the coast of Brazil.  Sadly, most of the crew lost their lives fighting to keep the seas free.

The freedoms that we enjoy were made possible by those individuals who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.  Our Armed Forces continue to maintain the same standard of commitment and honor that was declared over two hundred years ago.   It is my hope that we will expand our acknowledgements of the successes of the brave Merchant Mariners by passing Assembly Resolution 105, which honors the United States Merchant Marine.  On Monday, let us reflect on the sacrifices of all who died in service to defending our way of life, so that freedom can continue to ring across our great nation.

 

MUÑOZ RESOLUTION DESIGNATING JULY 1 AS ‘ U.S. CADET NURSE CORPS DAY’ APPROVED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY

A resolution sponsored by Assembly Republican Nancy F. Muñoz memorializing the contributions of the women in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps earned approval yesterday from the General Assembly. Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-84, designates July 1 of every year as “U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Day.”

“The Cadet Nurse Corps paved the way for improvements in educational standards and training,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “By opening the nursing careers to more than 124,000 young women when there was a desperate need for nursing, the program changed the face of nursing in the United States.”

American nursing schools, which previously only accepted white students, were integrated by the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, which recruited thousands of African-American women nurses.

“During the war, with so many nurses committed to military service, there was a critical shortage of skilled nurses on the home front. Within two years of the formation of the corps, Cadet Nurses accounted for 80 percent of American nursing care. These young nurses were World War II heroes in every sense. We should celebrate their efforts and preserve their memory,” said Muñoz, noting that her mother was a Cadet Nurse, trained in one of the final classes at the end of World War II.

MUÑOZ BILL TO HELP PEOPLE WITH ADDICTIONS FIND TREATMENT FACILITIES WINS ASSEMBLY APPROVAL

The General Assembly approved legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors on Thursday to assist people with drug and alcohol addictions who are seeking help at residential treatment centers.

The bill, A-3955, requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to maintain a database that can be accessed by the public on the availability of open beds in residential treatment facilities that receive state or county funding.

“With prescription drug abuse a major problem in our state, thousands of adult and adolescents are having a difficult time finding a facility with an available bed. Many have to wait three weeks or longer, which is much too long for someone with a drug or alcohol problem,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The process can be complicated, because of a lack of a centralized information source. A database will help streamline the process, saving people time and unnecessary frustration.”

A 2013 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that of 179,000 people in New Jersey who abuse or were dependent on illicit drugs, only a quarter received treatment.

Under the bill, treatment facilities will be required to submit at least once a day, information on the number of open beds that are available for treatment. The database will include, by county, the address and telephone number of the facility; the type of services provided; the licensed bed capacity, and the number of open beds that are available.

ASSEMBLY APPROVES MUÑOZ ALS AWARENESS RESOLUTION

A resolution sponsored by Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz to increase public awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” received General Assembly approval on Thursday. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“ALS takes a physical and emotional toll on those who suffer from the disease,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “While there still is no cure, people who are diagnosed today and their families need to know that recent advancements in research and improved medical care allows many patients to live longer, more productive lives.

“Many may recall the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which helped bring an enormous amount of attention to this debilitating disease,” she continued. “However, the novelty of the campaign has faded. That’s why we need to make sure we continue our efforts to educate the public about ALS.”

Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-67, designates the third Wednesday in May as ALS Awareness Day, and the month of May as ALS Awareness Month in New Jersey. The annual Walk to Defeat ALS, the ALS Association’s national signature event, will be held at various locations in the state during the month of May.

ASSEMBLY ADVANCES MUÑOZ COST SAVING GENERIC BIOLOGICAL MED BILL

Cost-saving legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will give more patients access to biological medications by allowing pharmacists to substitute generic (biosimilar) forms of the drugs was advanced Thursday by the General Assembly.

Biological drugs (biologics) are created from living cells (animal, yeast, plant) rather than through traditional chemistry, which produces chemical pills. They are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. While a (chemical) generic medication is identical to a brand named drug, replication of an identical biologic by another manufacturer is nearly impossible.

“Many patients with very serious diseases and painful conditions cannot afford biological medications because they are very expensive,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Generic versions are just now becoming available which is great news because they can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications.

“At the same time, we need to make sure pharmacists and physicians are communicating with each other since these products are more complex than chemical drugs and it’s not yet certain what kind of a reaction a patient may have,” she continued. “This bill enhances the safety and effectiveness of biologics while providing more treatment options to patients.”

Muñoz said the legislation, A-2477, is needed to ensure that once the FDA has approved a biosimilar as “interchangeable” with a biologic, a law is in place to address the issue of substitution. Currently, the only biosimilar product approved by the FDA in the U.S. is Zarxio. Manufactured by Sandoz, it is the generic version of Neupogen, made by Amgen, Inc. It is used to treat patients with certain types of cancers and related illnesses, but has not yet been approved as an “interchangeable” product. “Interchangeable” means that pharmacists may substitute a biosimilar or generic for a biological drug.

Under the bill, a pharmacist who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar is required to notify the prescribing physician of the substitution within five business days after dispensing the medications and provide the name and manufacturer of the product.

Muñoz noted that only Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts have passed similar legislation. Should the measure become law and, as more biosimilars become available, New Jersey would be at the forefront of providing cost effective medications for patients with debilitating diseases. She added that both generic and brand manufacturers support the bill.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approved the measure last week.

MUÑOZ COST SAVING BIOLOGIC MED BILL CLEARS COMMITTEE

Cost saving legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will allow pharmacists to substitute biosimilar (generic) forms of biological medications won approval today from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Biological products (biologics) are medications created from living cells (animal, yeast, plant) rather than through traditional chemistry, which produces chemical pills. They are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. While a (chemical) generic medication is identical to a brand named drug, replication of an identical biologic by another manufacturer is nearly impossible.

“Biologics are used to treat very serious diseases and painful conditions, but for many patients they are unaffordable.” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Generic versions can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications.”

“Since these products are more complex than chemical drugs you never know what kind of a reaction a patient may have. That’s why communication between pharmacists and physicians is so important,” she continued. “This bill enhances the safety and effectiveness of biologics while providing more treatment options to patients.”

Muñoz said the legislation, A-2477, is needed to ensure that once the FDA has approved a biosimilar as “interchangeable” with a biologic, a law is in place to address the issue of substitution. Currently, the only biosimilar product approved by the FDA in the U.S. is Zarxio. Manufactured by Sandoz, it is the generic version of Neupogen, made by Amgen, Inc. It is used to treat patients with certain types of cancers and related illnesses, but has not yet been approved as an “interchangeable” product. “Interchangeable” means that pharmacists may substitute a biosimilar for a biologic.

Under the bill, a pharmacist who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar is required to notify the prescribing physician of the substitution within five business days after dispensing the medications and provide the name and manufacturer of the product.

Muñoz noted that only Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts have passed similar legislation. Should the measure become law and, as more biosimilars become available, New Jersey would be at the forefront of providing cost effective medications for patients with debilitating diseases. She added that both generic and brand manufacturers support the bill.

GOV. SIGNS MUÑOZ BILL ALLOWING APNS TO DETERMINE CAUSE OF DEATH

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to allow an attending advanced nurse practitioner (APN) to determine their patients’ cause of death was signed into law today by Gov. Christie.

“As the patient’s primary treating health professional, the APN is often with the patient at time of death which is a very emotional time for family members,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “APNs are trained professionals who are licensed to treat, order tests, make referrals to surgeons, diagnose and manage long-term illnesses. It’s not only appropriate, it’s common sense to allow the attending APN to make such a call. This new law will help families move forward.”

The bill, A-1319/S-1152, allows an APN to determine the cause of death and execute the death certification of a patient when the nurse is the patient’s primary caregiver and the collaborating physician is not available.

MUÑOZ ON STUDY SHOWING NO LINK BETWEEN VACCINES AND AUTISM: VACCINATIONS ARE EFFECTIVE AND NECESSARY

Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, issued the following statement in response to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found no link between autism and childhood vaccines, including those with an older sibling who has autism:

“With autism rates soaring in the U.S. and in New Jersey, and its cause yet undetermined, I understand that parents are concerned. Vaccinations, however, are effective and have a proven history of preventing serious childhood diseases. I come from a generation that saw the consequences of many of these diseases, including measles, rubella and polio. Vaccines have saved countless lives.

“Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of misinformation linking vaccines with autism. Hopefully, this latest study, in conjunction with the other scientific research, will allay any fears. Too many children today are not being vaccinated. As a result, we’re seeing a resurgence of some of these diseases, such as the measles outbreak earlier this year. It’s a very dangerous road to travel.”

Muñoz is a clinical nurse specialist.

The study, which involved more than 95,000 children, found no overall link between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine.