New Jersey Senate Votes To Limit Opioid Prescription Narcotics

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New Jersey Senate Votes To Limit Opioid Prescription Narcotics

Last Monday, the New Jersey state Senate approved a bill that will require physicians to limit first-time painkiller prescriptions to just five days.

This measure is intended to reduce the chance that patients will abuse or become addicted to opioids, as well as limit the availability of unused medication that could fall into the hands of those without a prescription.

The bill passed unanimously 33-0. However, Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), who is also a dentist, stated that they should look for a better approach to battling the opioid epidemic. He noted that other states with similar laws have set 7-day limits, and that there was no justification for the 5-day limitation.

More About The Bill

The 5-day initial prescription limitation is indicated for acute pain, but it does have a caveat. If upon the fourth day, the patient requires more relief, the prescription can be renewed without the patient incurring a second co-payment.

Of note, limitations on opioid prescription narcotics will not apply to cancer patients, or those in hospice care or nursing homes.

Prior to writing the first prescription, the physician will be required to record the patient’s medical history, including substance abuse, discuss pain management alternatives, and explain the risks of opioid addiction. The patient (or guardian) must then sign an acknowledgment form stating they have received and understand the information.

The bill includes another provision intended to provide addicted patients with up to six months of treatment, even if they are unable to pay for it.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union), Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex). The bill will now move on to the full Assembly for a vote before it goes to Gov. Christie for signature.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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