Nationally Recognized Oral Surgeon, Other Experts Inform Doctors and Dentists on Safer Opioid Prescribing


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2017

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

Dr. A. Omar Abubaker, a dentist and oral surgeon who lost his son, Adam, to a heroin overdose in 2014, addressed an audience of dentists and doctors on safer prescribing of opioids at Thursday's Do No Harm Symposium hosted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey at JFK Medical Center.

EDISON — As a dentist and oral surgeon who has prescribed opioid painkillers throughout his career, Dr. A. Omar Abubaker certainly has a professional interest in the opioid epidemic that now is claiming an average of 175 American lives every day.

But Abubaker’s main connection to the crisis is as a father, one who lost his 21-year-old son to a heroin overdose in 2014.

“This is a story of many Americans, day in and day out,” Abubaker said to a room full of dentists and doctors Thursday at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Do No Harm Symposium held at JFK Medical Center. “You can’t even imagine the human impact beyond the numbers.”

Abubaker, the chairman of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry and a national voice advocating for safer prescribing by dentists, was one of the medical and law enforcement experts who provided doctors and dentists with crucial information on the opioid epidemic and how prescribers can take steps to address it.

The seminar was co-sponsored by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, JFK Medical Center, the New Jersey Dental Association and Wellspring Center for Prevention.

“There is not a day that goes by without hearing or seeing a story in the media on the impact of the misuse of prescription medication,” said Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Executive Director Angelo Valente. “This opioid epidemic is an issue that will require everyone to take a seat at the table.”

Other speakers included Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, Assistant Special Agent in Charge – Christopher Jakim of the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division and Dr. Sindy Paul of the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

Since it launched in 2013, the Do No Harm Symposium series has educated physicians and health systems to help them better understand the link between opioid prescription drug misuse and rising heroin abuse.

“It has been vitally important to include the medical community in our battle against heroin and prescription opioid abuse,” said Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division. “We look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey on this and other important drug prevention issues.”

Following the death of his son, Adam, more than three years ago, Abubaker started educating himself on addiction, earning a graduate certificate in international addiction studies. Since then, he has incorporated his knowledge on the topic to help change the way dental students and current dental professionals are taught about opioid prescribing.

“Medical education, that is where change will have the most impact,” Abubaker said. “We should all be part of the solution.”


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 $70 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 166 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.