National and State Leaders Address Solutions to NJ Rx Epidemic at Symposium


The Do No Harm symposium, held on October 30 at HackensackUMC, discussed the role of the medical community in the prescription drug abuse epidemic gripping the nation. (l-r) First Assistant Attorney General Thomas Calcagni, Dr. Joseph Feldman, Chairman of Emergency Medicine, HackensackUMC, Elaine Pozycki, Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, Dr. Christopher Jones, CDC, and Eric Kanefsky, Director, New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

HACKENSACK--- Physicians from across New Jersey gathered with national and state leaders at Hackensack University Medical Center October 30, 2013 to discuss solutions to the epidemic of prescription drug abuse at the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s (PDFNJ) Do No Harm Symposium.

Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Avtavis, and the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) joined the discussion along with United States Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman and New Jersey Assistant State Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell.

Angelo M. Valente, executive director of PDFNJ, explained, “with prescription drug abuse at catastrophic levels in our state, the Do No Harm symposium allowed leaders and stakeholders from the medical community and  law enforcement to come together to discuss solutions for prescription drug abuse in our state.”

First Assistant Attorney General Thomas Calcagni called on doctors to be part of the solution of preventing prescription drug abuse in New Jersey. “We don’t believe you’re the problem, but we desperately need you to be part of the solution,” Calcagni said.

Eric Kanefsky, director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs echoed Calcagni and urged physicians to enroll in the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – a statewide database that collects prescription data.

Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration said, “The prescription drug abuse problem is a plague currently threatening our communities locally and nationally.  The Do No Harm symposium stressed that this is not a problem that can be solved by any one entity.  There needs to be cooperation among law enforcement, prevention organizations, physicians and pharmacists to help tackle this issue.”

“By 2010 drug overdose deaths outnumbered motor vehicle traffic deaths in 31 states, including New Jersey,” said Dr. Christopher Jones, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explained to the approximately 150 medical professionals in attendance at the Do No Harm Symposium.

“MSNJ was thrilled to be a sponsor and a part of this important event and is committed to reducing drug abuse and diversion, while protecting access for true patient needs. We hope for increased education about abuse and addiction for all stakeholders,” noted Mishael Azam, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Manager, Legislative Affairs MSNJ.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will be hosting its American Medicine Chest Challenge National Day of Awareness on November 9 to further emphasize the prescription drug abuse issue. The American Medicine Chest Challenge is a public-private partnership designed to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse while giving citizens an opportunity to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medications at over 1,000 locations across the United States.

Do No Harm was supported by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program and the Drug Enforcement Administration-New Jersey, in conjunction with the Medical Society of New Jersey and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

Photo and interview opportunities are available upon request.