Opioid Prescription Law Aims to Curb Opioid Addiction
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Dr. Laura Balsamini, Director of Pharmacy Services at Summit Medical Group, as she breaks down New Jersey's opioid prescription law and how it aims to curb opioid addiction and overdoses.
"We are pleased to welcome Doctor Laura Balsamini, who is Director of Pharmacy Services at Summit Medical Group. Good to see you doctor. Thank you for having me Steve. Let's educate some folks. The opioid epidemic overdose crisis, describe it. So we're in the midst of, just as you said, an opioid crisis, where sadly, we saw 33,000 patient lives lost in 2015, whereby patients have been overdosing, not only on prescription opioids, but subsequently fentanyl and heroin. But of those 33,000, over half of them were lost to prescription opioids. Why do you say "subsequently"? Is there a move...? What's the movement from "alright I've got this prescription for..." Sure. I'm not even gonna name... "...some painkiller, I hurt my knee", get a pain medication, opioid, but it gets cut off at a certain point, as it should, right? Sure. Sure. What happens? So because they have so much addiction involved with opioids, what happens is patients who have already got an inherent propensity for addiction continue to need more and more or want more and more, and when that prescribing... because it is... it's a gateway drug, we call it. And once the prescribing of those opioids may cease, because technically the patient should be doing better, the injury or the post... Right. ...surgery should have improved. They may need something more. And if they're not necessarily getting an opioid, they may start looking for something else. And sadly they may turn to illicit medicatio... drugs like heroin. Doctor, you know the law got changed in the state. Yes. It now... help us on this. A couple of pieces of it. One, it limits the number of... I'm not sure if it's five, or what it is, five pills? So it's a five day supply. So this is... five day, I'm sorry. I apologize. No, that's okay. So... A five day supply? It's actually one of the strictest laws that were passed in New Jersey, across the country, in our state... just right here. That's a good thing? It is. It is because the crisis is what I just mentioned, how many people's lives have been lost. We really need to do something to put a stop to it. And part of that is... the law is one component of it, whereby, just as you just said, that first opioid prescription, if the patient hasn't had an opioid in the previous 12 month window, is limited to a five day supply. This was stricter than even what Massachusetts or New York passed, which was seven days. And what's really surprising was that this law did not allow for an exemption. For example, post surgical opioid prescriptions... That prescription is an exception. But there..."