Safer Prescribing Practices for Pediatric Dentists at the Do No Harm Symposium


Contact: Mary Vassoler
Media Coordinator
973-467-2100 x11 (office)
973-382-4560 (mobile)

MILLBURN — As the opioid epidemic has continued to impact New Jersey residents, it has become critical for medical and dental professionals to become more aware of the risks of prescription opioids and develop safer prescribing practices.

Studies have estimated that dentists write 12 percent of all opioid prescriptions, and unused dentally-prescribed opioids cause 1,500 deaths each year, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New Jersey Division, the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program and the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry will host a Do No Harm Symposium on Wednesday, January 30th to discuss the links between prescription opioids and heroin use and steps toward safer prescribing in New Jersey’s medical communities, specifically in pediatric dentistry.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), a non-profit organization, helps to raise awareness of substance use prevention through education and outreach. “We have to stop this disease on all fronts, and working with our partners in the medical community and law enforcement is the first step,”  PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said.

Nearly 6 percent of people ages 16 to 25 who received initial opioid prescriptions in 2015 from dentists were diagnosed with opioid abuse within a year, according to a 2018 study by researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California. In comparison, 0.4 percent in a similar group who didn’t get dental opioids were diagnosed with opioid abuse during the same period.

The  President of the New Jersey Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and Chairperson of Governmental Affairs for the New Jersey Dental Association, Dr. Elisa Velazquez will speak about the alternatives to prescribing opioids to children.

“Pediatric dentists need to be aware of the New Jersey Dental Association Guidelines for prescribing narcotics to patients, especially children. Over the past 20 years, I have not written a prescription for opioids,” Velazquez said.

A representative from the DEA’s New Jersey Division will discuss the opioid crisis from a law enforcement perspective. “The DEA is proud to be a partner with the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey on the Do No Harm symposium series since its inception in 2013,” said Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division. “We have been able to reach more than 4,000 members of the medical community across New Jersey, and educate them on the role they can play in reducing the current opioid crisis. We look forward to our continued collaboration on this very important educational series.”

Join these organizations on Wednesday, January 30 from 7pm to 9pm at the Days Hotel & Conference Center by Wyndham in East Brunswick, 195 NJ-18, East Brunswick, New Jersey 08816 to identify ways to prevent prescription drug abuse among pediatric patients.

For more  information about the opioid epidemic here in New Jersey, please visit: and/or Follow us on twitter: @drugfeenj.


Best known for its statewide substance use prevention 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.