States Target Tighter Opioid Prescribing

New Jersey prescribers now must discuss the risks of treatment with patients under age 18.

New Jersey legislation recently signed into law seeks to address the burgeoning opioid epidemic. This new law focuses on having physicians discuss the dangers of opioids prior to prescribing them to minors.

"We've seen the devastation the opioid crisis has created in many of our communities," Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic) said in a press release. "This discussion needs to be had as early as possible and from as many angles as possible to reach our young people before it's too late."

The new legislation requires prescribers to discuss the potential misuse of opioids classified as schedule II controlled dangerous substances, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, which is a collaboration between the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the NJ Department of Human Services.

Prescribers are now required to discuss the drug’s risks with patients, and their parent or guardian if they are not emancipated.

"The battle against opioid addiction needs to be a continued and coordinated one from all aspects of society," said Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "We've passed legislation to empower law enforcement and first responders to aid in the crisis. Now it's time to enlist the aid of doctors to help reinforce the message on the dangers of opioid and other prescription drug addictions."

Specific details, such as physical and psychological dependence risks, will be discussed at the time of prescribing. If the prescriber deems it appropriate, alternative therapies should be pursued, according to the release.

The legislators believe that sometimes young adults under age 18 may not listen to the risks if they are disclosed by parents or teachers. If the risks are discussed with teenagers by a healthcare professional who has seen the harmful effects of addiction, they may be more inclined to refrain from misusing opioids.

"The opioid crisis is a frightening and deadly phenomenon that has claimed far too many lives already," said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex). "We need the help of physicians to join in this battle. The earlier and more often we can talk to kids about this, the better."

Under the new law, the prescriber will be required to make a note in the patient’s records to confirm that the discussion took place. However, the law does not require this discussion if the patient is under hospice care, according to the press release.

Gov Chris Christie issued an emergency order banning the manufacturing, distribution, sale, and possession of 7 derivatives of fentanyl. These derivatives were added to the list of Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances in New Jersey to combat the opioid crisis in the state.

The emergency order also expands the Recovery Coach Program to support individuals with opioid misuse disorder in order to prevent overdoses and related deaths.

"We need a full court press when it comes to dealing with the opioid crisis," said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "If health care professionals join in the conversation along with parents and educators hopefully it will make a difference in the lives of many."