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Christie: New York Joins New Jersey's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) --The leaders of New York and New Jersey are teaming up against prescription pill addiction.

Gov. Chris Christie says New York has agreed to join New Jersey's prescription monitoring program to share records on the sale of dangerous drugs.

Christie, a Republican, said Tuesday he and Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had worked out the partnership.

Christie made the announcement at Englewood Hospital in Bergen County.

"All of us who are parents understand how extraordinarily scary it is to think your child could be confronted with this challenge at such a young age," Gov. Christie said.

New York's participation in the program brings the number of states working with New Jersey to seven, including Delaware, Connecticut and Virginia. Governor Christie hopes Florida will soon join the group.

Christie says the partnership is another step toward combating heroin and opioid addiction.

"Partnering with New York adds tremendous strength to the PMP's ability to track suspicious signs of prescription drugs and other suspicious behaviors," he said.

The database contains the names of patients, doctors, pharmacies and other information and allows health care workers to search a patient's prescription patterns and determine whether they're "doctor shopping," or going to different doctors to get narcotics.

"According to the CDC more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record," Christie said.

As CBS2's Meg Baker reported, the governors hope that by joining forces, addicts will not be able to shop across borders for drugs.

The head of the emergency room at Englewood Hospital said once they have identified that someone has a substance abuse problem, it is often hard to get them into treatment. It's also very expensive, so the program could be vital.

'That is a huge issue, not just for the state of New Jersey, but for the whole country. You identify the problem, then resources you have to give to patients are limited. That really needs to be the next step," Hillary Cohen, Head of Emergency Room said.

Amanda Potopchuk knows just how difficult fighting addiction can be. Her story is not an uncommon one.

"I am incredibly fortunate to be alive and standing before you today," she said.

At the age of 16 Potopchuk was prescribed percocet to help deal with pain from Kidney stones.

"Between 2002 and 2006, I was legally prescribed opioids on a consistent basis. Being young I did not know much about these drugs other than they made my pain go away," she said.

She was addicted, and when the pills were cut off she turned to heroin.

Potopchuk is one of the few winning the battle against opioid and heroin abuse. She will graduate this summer from Wilmington University with a Master's Degree, and hopes her story will save others.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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