A bill designed to crackdown on illegal steroid abuse in New Jersey's law enforcement and firefighting communities has been approved by a Senate panel, moving it one step closer to final legislative approval. The Assembly sponsors are Herb Conaway, John McKeon, Ruben Ramos, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle.

The legislation was prompted by an extensive series of news stories that revealed widespread steroid abuse in police and fire departments. In one case, at least 248 officers and firefighters reportedly obtained prescriptions for these drugs from a single Jersey City doctor.

“This steroid abuse is frightening from both a public policy and public health perspective,” says Conaway. “Taxpayers have been stung and public safety has been put at risk, as has the health of the abusers. We cannot sit idly by and let this abuse continue. This bill is a step in the proper direction.”

The bill which was unanimously approved earlier this by the full Assembly, would require the Department of Law and Public Safety to include human growth hormones among the drugs to be monitored in the state's Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). The PMP was created in 2007 to monitor controlled dangerous substances dispensed in most outpatient settings.

McKeon explains, “State taxpayers have been wrongly paying for millions of dollars in insurance costs for prescriptions that were, in many cases, issued illegally. Taxpayers also have been footing the bill for the side effects of this abuse. It's long past time for this outrage to finally stop. Taxpayers and public safety deserve better.”

Human growth hormone is not a controlled dangerous substance under federal and state laws. Therefore, prescriptions for human growth hormones would not be monitored as a matter of course under the PMP.

“It's bad enough that this abuse has been costing the taxpayers of this state millions of dollars,” says Ramos. “Law enforcement officers susceptible to ‘roid rage’ pose a grave danger to the public safety. This measure will increase accountability and awareness and send a message that this behavior must stop.”

Vainieri Huttle adds, “Steroid abuse often comes with increased aggression, so this illegal activity by those assigned to protect our safety has been costly to taxpayers and put people at risk. It cannot continue. This bill will prevent abuse, save taxpayers money and hopefully lead to these abusers getting the help they need before it’s too late.”