New Jersey law having positive impact on opioid epidemic

New Jersey’s Patient Notification Act is having a positive effect on the fight against the opioid epidemic, according to a recent study.

The law, which went into effect in 2017, requires medical practitioners to discuss with patients any available nonopioid alternatives as well as the addictive potential of opioid-based painkillers.

The study was conducted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management medical director. It was commissioned by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ).

Kolodny found that before the law’s enactment, 18 percent of the practitioners warned patients about the risk of opioid addiction. Today, 95 percent of practitioners routinely do.

Also, the number of clinicians who prescribed opioids for acute pain has declined by more than 1,000, and nearly 5,000 fewer patients started taking opioids the month after the law was enacted.

“We are very pleased with the results of the study,” Angelo Valente, PDFNJ’s executive director, said. “PDFNJ spearheaded and advocated for the passage of this Act in New Jersey and are pleased that it has become a major tool curbing the opioid epidemic and helping patients and their families have the tools they need to make informed decisions regarding prescription opioids.”