Do No Harm Symposium Informs Doctors on Safer Prescribing


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 19, 2018

Contact: Matt Birchenough, Media Coordinator, 201-916-1032,

Do No Harm Symposium Informs Doctors on Safer Prescribing

RIDGEWOOD — Dozens of doctors and other medical professionals learned how they can be proactive in the fight against the ongoing opioid epidemic at a seminar Thursday morning at The Valley Hospital.

The Do No Harm Symposium — organized by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division and The Valley Hospital — outlined how healthcare providers can prescribe opioid painkillers in a safer and more responsible manner to help stem the tide of the crisis that has claimed thousands of lives in New Jersey in recent years.

“Through safe and responsible prescribing, doctors and other prescribers play a key role in helping to prevent opioid misuse,” Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “These symposiums help to equip prescribers with the medical and legal information necessary to make the best decisions for their patients and to stem the opioid epidemic ravaging New Jersey.”

Speakers at the event included Special Agent Timothy McMahon of the DEA ­– New Jersey Division; Dr. Lewis S. Nelson, professor and chair of the department of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the chief of service at the emergency department at University Hospital; Theresa M. DiGuglielmo, an attorney with Frier Levitt; and Elaine Pozycki, co-chair of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

Prescription opioid misuse has been a driving force behind the opioid and heroin epidemic that claimed an estimated 49,000 lives in the United States last year. In 2017, 11.1 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription opioids, according to the Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and an estimated 5,500 people in the United States misuse prescription opioids for the first time every day.

In 2017, new legislation passed by the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly limits initial prescriptions of opioids for treatment of acute pain to a five-day supply. The law also requires prescribers to discuss with the patient or the patient’s parent and guardian why the medication is being prescribed, risks associated with opioids and possible alternative treatments.

Additionally, the legislation requires physicians, physician assistants, dentists and optometrists to complete one continuing medical education credit on topics that include responsible prescribing practices, alternatives to opioids for managing and treating pain, and signs of opioid abuse, addiction and diversion.

Since it launched in 2013, the Do No Harm Symposium series has provided information to doctors and other providers from health systems throughout the state to help them better understand the link between opioid prescription drug misuse and heroin use. About 98 percent of the nearly 4,000 prescribers who have attended symposiums have said that they intend to make changes to their prescribing habits based on the information learned at the seminars.


Best known for its statewide anti-drug advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $100 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception the Partnership has garnered 174 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.