National Opioid Commission Recommendations Mirror Work Already Being Done by PDFNJ

The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis delivered an interim report to President Trump earlier this week, urging him to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

With an average of 142 Americans dying every day from opioid overdoses, the commission, headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, argued that such an action would open up avenues to more effectively combat the issue. 

The report also included several other recommendations for stemming the opioid crisis, some of which are currently being carried out through the work of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

One of the recommendations focuses on further educating prescribers, stating, “Mandate prescriber education initiatives with the assistance of medical and dental schools across the country to enhance prevention efforts.… HHS should work with partners to ensure additional training opportunities, including continuing education courses for professionals.”

The report cites the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which estimates that, not including federal prescribers who are required to be trained, fewer than 20 percent of the more than 1 million prescribers in the United States licensed to prescribe controlled substances have been trained on how to write prescriptions for opioids.

PDFNJ has been active in efforts to change prescribing habits since 2013, when it began its Do No Harm symposium series informing prescribers on the dangers of prescribing opioids and the links to heroin abuse. Of the nearly 4,000 prescribers who have attended one of the symposiums, 95 percent said they intend to make opioid prescribing changes or what they learned at the Do No Harm event to their practice.

As part of the report’s prescriber education recommendation, a key goal is to have healthcare providers educate their patients on the risks and addictive nature of opioid pain relievers.

As noted in the report, New Jersey has made great strides in this area, most notably through a new law signed by Governor Christie earlier this year requiring prescribers to discuss the risks of opioid dependence with their patients prior to the first prescription.

The patient notification law was spearheaded by PDFNJ Co-Chair Elaine Pozycki, who at the time of the legislation’s passage called it “an important step forward in the effort to curb the epidemic of opioid abuse that is plaguing New Jersey.”

Last month, Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island signed legislation modeled after New Jersey’s patient notification law. Continuing to spread these initiatives that have increased opioid abuse awareness in New Jersey would be a positive step in addressing the crisis nationally.

The commission will issue a final report that will further examine other aspects of the opioid crisis, including prevention through “evidence-based prevention programs for schools, and tools for teachers and parents.”

PDFNJ continues to be a leader in delivering drug use prevention messages to students and teachers through the Third Grade Contract for a Healthy Life, Fourth Grade Folder Contest, Middle School PSA Challenge and New Jersey Shout Down Drugs. The Partnership also reaches parents through the 15 Minute Child Break program.

Reminder: PDFNJ’s Third Annual Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs Online NJ Family Fishing Tournament kicks off Friday, August 4 and runs through Sunday, August 13. The rules are simple: Enjoy a fishing outing with your family, snap a picture and post it social media with the hashtag #drugfreenj.  

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