New Jersey: First in the Nation to Require Physicians to Discuss Addictive Qualities of Opiates Prior to Prescribing


Contact: Angela Conover, PDFNJ, 201-916-1030,


New Jersey:  First in the Nation to Require Physicians to Discuss Addictive Qualities of Opiates Prior to Prescribing

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey's Co-Chair, Elaine Pozycki, and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey's Ex. Director, Angelo M. Valente discuss the importance of patient notification during the “Turn the Tide Tour” in Livingston, NJ on 8/8/2016

TRENTON -- New Jersey residents will now be informed of the addictive qualities of the medicines their children are prescribed thanks to a new law, the first of its kind in the nation, which passed today in the Garden State.

The new law (A3424/S2156) signed by Governor Chris Christie requires prescribers, both physicians and dentists, to speak to the parents of their patients under the age of 18 before prescribing an opioid, according to Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). The law also requires prescribers to discuss non-opiate alternatives and make note of the conversation.

“The passage of today’s law will guarantee that families are equipped with the knowledge they need to prevent opiate abuse in their children. This groundbreaking law will serve as a model for the rest of the nation in their efforts to combat the opioid abuse epidemic,” explained Valente.

“We applaud Governor Christie and the State Legislature for taking action to give parents the information they need to prevent their children and teenagers from becoming addicted to opiate-based painkillers,” added Elaine Pozycki, chairwoman of PDFNJ, “It is an important step forward in the effort to curb the epidemic of opioid abuse that is plaguing New Jersey.”

When signing the bill, today, Christie said that this new law “can help stem the growing tide of drug addiction in New Jersey that has been largely caused by the misuse of prescription drugs or prescription drugs getting into the wrong hands.”

“The rise in the use and abuse of prescription drugs and heroin has reached epidemic proportions in New Jersey, spreading the dangerous disease of addiction and taking the lives of its victims. We must support and improve access to prevention, treatment, education and recovery efforts for parents and families from the very first point of contact, often times with a physician, so we can reverse the rapid trend of opiate-related addiction and deaths plaguing our state. We have a shared responsibility to take action and to protect our youth from succumbing to this disease,” stated Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), chair of the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and a prime sponsor of the bill.

"We've seen the devastation the opioid crisis has created in many of our communities. 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,” according to Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic), one of the prime sponsors in the New Jersey State Assembly.

The new law requires health care professionals with prescribing authority to discuss the addiction potential of any opioid drug that is a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance prior to issuing a prescription for the medication to a patient who is under 18 years of age. The prescriber is required to have this discussion with the patient, along with the patient's parent or guardian, if the patient is not an emancipated minor. The prescriber is specifically be required to discuss the risks of developing a physical or psychological dependence on the medication and, if the prescriber deems it appropriate, any alternative treatments that may be available. The prescriber is now also required to include a note in the patient's medical record indicating that the discussion took place. The new law does not require the discussion when prescribing medication to patients who are under hospice care.

Pozycki concluded, “The momentum generated by the adoption of this important legislation is setting the stage for progress on companion common sense prevention measures, such as requiring physicians and other prescribers to receive ongoing training in best prescribing practices as a condition of being able to prescribe opiate-based pain relievers, and making pill limits for initial opiate prescriptions permanent law.  These measures are contained in New Jersey bills S3/A3 currently being considered in the New Jersey Legislature.