New Jersey Doctors' Open Letter on Safe Prescribing

Below is a letter from a group of New Jersey doctors - Dr. Shuvendu Sen, Dr. Michael Findura, Dr. Rany Al Haj, and Dr. Joseph Albanese - expressing their support for sharing important information with their patients about the potential addictive qualities of certain medications.

 

Open Letter to New Jersey:

As New Jersey physicians we are dedicated to our patients and the health of our state. Our top priority is the health and well-being of the residents of New Jersey. 

Over the past several years we have seen too many New Jersey families impacted by addiction – addiction to opiate pain killers, some of which were accessed from a friend or relative, and some of which were first introduced through a prescription to treat chronic and acute pain.

It is shocking that we are in a state where, last year, in New Jersey, drug overdose deaths outnumbered motor vehicle traffic fatalities. What is just as concerning is that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for every one opioid overdose death there were 15 abuse treatment admissions, 26 emergency room visits, 115 people who abuse or are dependent, and 733 nonmedical users with a total of $4,350,000 in healthcare related costs.

What makes it worse is that prescription drug abuse is quite often the gateway to further addictions including heroin. Studies clearly show that new born babies born to mothers under the influence of prescription drug abuse are showing adverse effects of these prescribing narcotics. This is truly a crisis with epidemic proportions that we all have a part in developing solutions to end.

We join the public health efforts that are working to address the opiate epidemic that is having such an impact on our New Jersey families.

We strongly believe that sharing information with our patients –  about the potential addictive qualities of certain medications that we are prescribing is a responsibility of all doctors and empowers our patients to understand the benefits and risks associated with these medicines and choose appropriate alternative non-opiate based options on appropriate.

This will foster greater awareness both in the medical fraternity and in our community at large.

These concerns have been addressed in New Jersey Senate Bill 2366 which requires health care practitioners to inform patients of addiction potential of controlled dangerous substances prior to issuing a prescription. This bill was recently passed by a bi-partisan overwhelming vote, and we encourage the New Jersey Assembly to introduce the bill. We look forward an open and fair discussion of this legislation in the Assembly Health Committee Chaired by Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7) as soon as possible

We believe this to be a viable solution, as part of a comprehensive strategy, to help reduce the lives claimed by this epidemic.

Comments

Andrea Cortese
Posted 5/20/2015 2:57 PM

Physicians are an extremely important part of this solution. Suggest over the counter pain medication first before prescribing Vicodin for tooth extractions and prescribe alternative medications instead of going to addicting medications. We have all seen this cycle - heavy pain medications for post surgical treatment, addiction - difficulty getting the prescription medications and moving on to cheaper heroin. Stop the cycle please.

Anne Buggy
Posted 5/21/2015 1:29 PM

I agree. As a nurse and parent I am encouraged to see physicians taking a stand about these dangers. I would like to see something put in place that would require MD's, Clinics, ER's, dentists, etc. to obtain information about a patient's history concerning previous struggles with drugs prior to writing prescriptions for pain killers for dental care, medical analgesia, etc. Even if the person has an immediate family member who has addiction- care should be taken before prescribing controlled meds in large amounts without considering the risks of triggering an addictive response. I am also in favor of a state-wide registry which would show any scripts throughout the state that the patient has been issued for controlled drugs when the prescriber enters the information into a computer system. We should have the technology to do this. This way a prescriber can see any other scripts that have been written when the patient went "doctor-shopping".

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