The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation that would require doctors to prescribe an opioid overdose antidote in conjunction with any opioids they prescribe for high-risk patients.
The bill, S-2323, aims to reduce the number of opioid deaths in that state.
“The opioid crisis continues to claim lives and tear families apart at a mind-numbing rate,” said Bucco (R-25). “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the nation, and the pandemic has only increased the problem in the Garden State.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends co-prescribing an opioid antagonist like Narcan (naloxone) when prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
“Given the dangers of opioid misuse, it makes sense to provide a treatment that can be the difference between life and death,” Bucco continued. “The same approach has proven effective in other states, and it can make a difference in New Jersey, as well.”
New Jersey reported a suspected 2,791 opioid overdose deaths between Jan. 1, 2020, and Nov. 20, 2020. Officials said they expect that number to increase. New Jersey had 3,021 suspected opioid overdose deaths in 2019 and 3,006 confirmed opioid overdose deaths in 2018.
If the House passes the legislation, New Jersey will join seven other states that require co-prescribing opioid overdose medication alongside opioids prescriptions – Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Two other states, California and Ohio, have laws requiring prescribers to offer co-prescriptions of naloxone in certain cases.
“The bill will seek to protect high-risk patients with a history of substance abuse or those with an elevated daily prescription,” Bucco noted. “These individuals are at greater risk of overdose and this defensive strategy will prevent tragedies and save lives.”