Study Highlights Outcomes of New Jersey’s 2017 Opioid Legislation

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Millburn, NJ, Jan. 30, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A recent study conducted at Morristown Medical Center, titled “New legislation in New Jersey reduced opioid use among trauma patients,” provides an analysis of the effects of New Jersey’s 2017 opioid legislation. This research, evaluating changes in opioid prescription practices, follows the enactment of the law, a noteworthy initiative supported by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ).

The  2017 law marked a significant shift in opioid prescription guidelines in New Jersey, limiting initial prescriptions to a maximum of five days, reduced from the previous standard of 30 days. This change was based on evidence suggesting the potential for opioid dependency within a short period of initial use.

Findings from the Morristown Medical Center study indicate a correlation between the new law and a change in opioid prescription patterns. Despite a reported increase in the severity of injuries in 2018 compared to 2016, the data shows that patients were able to manage their pain effectively with fewer opioids or, in some instances, without them at all.

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“At Morristown Medical Center’s Emergency Department, we continuously strive to decrease the use of opioids in our patient population,” said Michael E. Silverman, MD, MBA, FACEP, FACP, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Morristown Medical Center, and Vice Chairman, Director of Operations, Department of Emergency Medicine. “We have multiple protocols in place to provide alternatives to the use of opioids. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, non-opioid patches, nerve blocks and use of medical alternatives such as IV Tylenol, IV non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and medications that block neurogenic pain. Our goal is to continue to use proven alternatives and reduce the need for opioids.”

Another critical aspect of the 2017 legislation is the “right to know” requirement, which 20 states have since adopted. This mandate obliges healthcare providers to discuss the risks associated with opioid use and any possible opioid alternatives available to address the patient’s pain. A 2019 Brandeis University study highlighted the impact of this requirement, showing an increase from less than 20% to 95% in the number of New Jersey healthcare providers discussing opioid misuse risks with their patients post-law implementation.

“The findings from these studies provide insights into the impact of New Jersey’s 2017 opioid legislation,” said Angelo Valente, Executive Director of PDFNJ.  “While there are positive indications of change in prescription practices and patient education, it’s important to recognize that the challenge of opioid misuse continues. Ongoing education, awareness, and prevention efforts remain crucial in addressing this issue.” Valente added that PDFNJ remains committed to contributing to these efforts, offering educational programs and resources, including continuing education credits to medical professionals for safe prescribing practices and well as non-opioid alternatives in pain management.

For further information on PDFNJ initiatives and programs, visit www.drugfreenj.org.

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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 $200 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 226 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.

CONTACT: Lisa Batitto Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey [email protected] 

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