NJ Patient Notification Law Introduced by Congress to Help Prevent Opioid Addiction Nationally


February 22, 2021
Contact: Angela Conover, 201-916-1030, conover@drugfreenj.org


NJ Patient Notification Law Introduced by Congress to Help Prevent Opioid Addiction Nationally


WASHINGTON U.S. Representative David Trone (D-Md.), along with Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.), and David McKinley (R-W.V.), has introduced the bipartisan Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act to help prevent opioid addiction across the country that is based on the success of the New Jersey Patient Notification Act.

The New Jersey law, authored and passed in New Jersey in 2017 and since replicated in 18 states, requires prescribers to notify patients or their parents and guardians about the addictive nature of opioids, as well as non-opioid alternatives available, prior to prescribing an opioid.

"Every American has the right to be warned about the highly addictive qualities of opioids — and made aware of effective non-opioid pain relief alternatives — especially right before an opioid is prescribed,” said Elaine Pozycki, the Chair of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and Founder of Prevent Opioid Abusea national organization working to educate patients and parents about the risks of opioid-based pain relievers and the availability of non-opioid alternatives. “The Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act provides a proven prevention measure, and I urge Congress to move speedily to adopt it.”

The Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act would create a grant program to incentivize states to require prescribers to discuss the addictive qualities of the drugs with patients and inform them of alternative treatment options before prescribing them for acute pain.

The New Jersey Patient Notification Act has had a profound impact on the state’s fight against the opioid epidemic, according to a study of the law commissioned by PDFNJ and conducted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Medical Director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

The study’s promising results found that prior to the enactment of the law only 18 percent of the participants warned patients about the risk of opioid addiction when prescribing opioids. Following the law’s passage, 95 percent routinely warned patients about the risk of addiction.

“These findings show that very few opioid prescribers were warning patients about the risk of addiction before New Jersey required them to do so, and since the law was enacted, the results speak for themselves,” Kolodny said. “It is much easier to prevent opioid use disorder in the first place than it is to treat it. One of the best ways to do this is by making sure prescribers, patients and parents understand how highly addictive opioids are before a first prescription is ever written or filled. This legislation will save lives.” 

New Jersey State Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), prime sponsor of the New Jersey law, is encouraged by the introduction of the Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act.

“I am proud that what we have done in New Jersey to prevent opioid dependency and addiction can serve as a model for the country,” he said. “We must continue to support and improve access to prevention, treatment, education and recovery efforts for patients, parents, and families from the very first point of contact, oftentimes with a physician, so we can reverse the rapid trend of opioid-related addiction and deaths. We have a shared responsibility to take action.”

“Opioid addiction is on the rise, made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we need to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Trone, the bill’s sponsor and a member of the Commission to Combat Synthetic Opioid Trafficking. “This bill will help ensure that patients have the knowledge to make informed decisions about what treatment option is right for them."

National organizations supporting the Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act include: Prevent Opioid Abuse (POA), Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP), Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), Partnership to End Addiction, Shatterproof, Addiction Policy Forum, FED UP!, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), and Voices for Non-Opioid Choices.

To read bill text, click here

To read a bill summary, click here.