In an effort to combat prescription drug abuse, Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) has introduced a bill which requires health care practitioners prescribing opioid medications to minors or children, to limit the amount of prescribed medication to a seven-day supply.
Senator Jim Holzapfel’s bill requires health care practitioners to limit opioid prescriptions for minors and new patients to a 7-day supply. (Wikimedia Commons)
“Prescription drug abuse in children and teens is the new gateway drug to heroin use. We have been at the forefront of combating this deadly addiction for years and this legislation will continue that fight,” said Holzapfel. “With this bill we will limit the amount of opioids that doctors will be able to prescribe to minors and make it mandatory to discuss the serious risks associated with drug abuse to both the parent and the patient.”
In addition, the bill, S-2188, specifies that the prescriber must discuss the risks associated with opioid use and why this medication is necessary with the parent or guardian of the minor patient. The Assembly version of this bill sponsored by Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin will be introduced at the next quorum.
This bill applies to minors and adults who are being prescribed an opioid for the first time. In certain situations, such as patients with chronic pain associated with a cancer diagnosis, a health care practitioner would be able to write a prescription for more than a seven-day supply. This information must be documented thoroughly in the patients’ medical records.
“Educating the patient and the parent or guardian is the first step in preventing prescription drug abuse. Parents can weigh the risks associated with the drug and also identify any behavior related to addiction. Creating a dialogue between doctors and parents will stop abuse before begins,” continued Wolfe.
The bill amends various practice laws that apply to physicians, advanced practice nurses and physician’s assistants in order to clarify that the prescription must be done in compliance with the bill’s new parameters and supply limitations.
“The misuse of opioids is a serious problem facing our State that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare,” McGuckin stated. “This issue has gone beyond a criminal nature and become a public health epidemic with devastating consequences.”
Holzapfel, Wolfe and MucGuckin also sponsor legislation to combat fentanyl deaths, by increasing criminal penalties for manufacturing or dealing the opioid. Fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. In New Jersey, overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl tripled in 2014. This legislation will ensure that criminals charged with dealing or manufacturing fentanyl face the same criminal penalties imposed on those who produce or distribute heroin.
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