JUNE 9, 2017

Gov. Chris Christie to Serve as Keynote Speaker on Opioid Crisis at Do No Harm Symposium

As New Jersey struggles with a statewide opioid epidemic, Gov. Chris Christie will address members of the medical community Monday, June 12, at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s (PDFNJ) Do No Harm symposium held at Morristown Medical Center.

The event is co-sponsored by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division, Atlantic Health System, Saint Clare’s Health, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the Morris County Sheriff’s Department and the Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris.

“Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that the prescribing of opioids by clinicians has increased threefold in the last 20 years,” said Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of PDFNJ. “With opioid abuse at catastrophic levels in our state, the Do No Harm symposium allows leaders and stakeholders from the medical community and law enforcement to come together to discuss solutions for opioid abuse in our state. There are no easy answers.”

Established in 2013, the Do No Harm symposium series provides information to doctors and health systems to help them make better decisions for patients and to better understand the link between opioid prescription drug abuse and rising heroin abuse.

“It has been vitally important to include the medical community in our battle against heroin and prescription opioid abuse,” said Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division. “We look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with the PDFNJ on this and other important drug prevention issues.”

Monday’s event will be the 20th Do No Harm symposium in the series, which has drawn more than 3,500 doctors, dentists and healthcare providers since the program’s inception.
“It’s the only comprehensive program in the country like this that addresses the opioid epidemic with prescribers,” Valente said.

Other speakers at the symposium will include:
•    Elaine Pozycki, Chair, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey
•    Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dennis Mihalopoulos, Drug Enforcement Administration – New
  Jersey Division
•    Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury
•    Andrew E. Blustein, Partner/Director, Garfunkel Wild, P.C. Attorney at Law
•    Dr. Lewis Nelson, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine
•    Dr. Michael Silverman, Atlantic Health
•    Sarabjit Singh, MD, Saint Clare’s Health – Boonton, Chief Medical Officer
•    Matthew R. Wetzel, Assistant Deputy Director, Division of Consumer Affairs, New Jersey Office of the
  Attorney General
•    Kelly Van Wyck and Aleksandra Novik, Rutgers Health Leadership

From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Medical professionals are a critical component of fighting our heroin and opioid epidemic,” Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp said. “This event is geared towards doctors and other health care providers to educate them as to the importance of their role in combating the addiction cycle.”

Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.
“Atlantic Health System is pleased to continue the conversation between legislators and prescribers on regulations around safer opioid prescribing,” said Trish O’Keefe, PhD, RN, president of Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System. “Our prescribers are on the front lines of the war on opioids, and we will continue to work to find best practices that ensure those who need high-level pain medication can receive it, while reducing the risk for abuse and diversion.”

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, June 12 (Registration begins at 8 a.m.)
WHERE: Morristown Medical Center – Atlantic Health System, 100 Madison Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960

Contact: Matt Birchenough, Media Coordinator, 201-916-1032,