Christie: Drugmakers to work on nonaddictive pain medication

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that pharmaceutical companies agreed to work on nonaddictive pain medications and additional treatments to deal with opioid addiction.

The Republican governor made the announcement in Trenton, shortly after he convened a meeting of the White House opioid commission that he chairs. That roundtable discussion was closed to the press.

He also held a news conference on the topic alongside White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, as well as National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and pharmaceutical executive Stephen Ubl.

“Today’s roundtable went a long way to further discussions about public-private partnership opportunities,” Christie said.

A closer look at what’s new and the broader context:

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ANTI-OPIOID PARTNERSHIP

Christie billed the new effort as the result of a partnership between federal stakeholders like the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry, which manufactures opioid medications at the center of the crisis, which Christie’s commission estimates kills 142 people a day.

The agreements with the pharmaceutical companies were part of the recommendations that the opioid commission made in an interim report it sent to President Donald Trump in July.

Christie said there’s no timeline for when the new medications would come online.

Ubl, the president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the group, commonly called PhRMA, supported the commission’s interim report.

Conway praised the commission’s work and pointed out that its membership is bipartisan. She said the Republican president considers the crisis a “major priority.”

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NATIONAL EMERGENCY?

Monday’s announcement comes after the Christie-led commission recommended in its July interim report that the president declare a national state of emergency. While Trump said in August he considers the crisis an “emergency,” the administration has delayed declaring one.

Christie said Monday that Trump wanted to “get it right” and that there is “significant discussion” surrounding the idea.

The commission’s report argues the declaration would force Congress to fund programs to fight opioid abuse.

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FINAL-YEAR PUSH

Christie, who has gone from a popular governor with presidential ambitions to having record-low job approval ratings, has dedicated his final year to the opioid addiction crisis.

He also said Monday that his administration would be rolling out new initiatives this week. Among them is likely to be a $200 million effort to improve how the state approaches substance abuse and prevention.

Christie told NJ.com the money would target programs for the uninsured, Medicaid recipients, babies born with addiction and their mothers.

Christie is term-limited and leaves office in January.

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