To help combat the ongoing opioid crisis in New Jersey and nationwide, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato, Vince Mazzeo and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to require all prescription opioid medications to have a warning sticker advising patients of the risk of addiction and overdose was approved Monday by the full Senate, 39-0. If enacted, New Jersey would be the first State in the nation to adopt a permanent law mandating warning labels for prescription opioids.
“We have warning labels on just about all medications these days,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “In the middle of this epidemic, we need to utilize every tool in our arsenal to increase awareness and education about the effects of opioid abuse. Adding a warning sticker to all opioid medications is an easy, cost-effective concept that can save lives.”
As a certified recovery coach and member of the Atlantic County Opioid Task Force, Armato has been on the front lines of the opioid and heroin crisis. He leads monthly meetings for co-dependents of those suffering from drug addiction.
“In 2019 in New Jersey, it’s sadly an oddity to know someone who hasn’t in some way been touched by the ongoing epidemic,” Armato said. “I look forward to working with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, recovery groups, and all stakeholders to pass this important piece of legislation.”
The bill (A-3292) would require the Board of Pharmacy to specify the language of the warning label, which at a minimum must indicate that the medication is an opioid and therefore carries a risk of addiction and overdose. The sticker would be black with white font to be clearly readable.
“Opioids are highly addictive, and overdoses are often fatal,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “We have an obligation to ensure patients and their families are advised of the risks associated with them, so we can continue to battle this epidemic in New Jersey. Overdoses are killing more people than ever before, and this is a step toward preventing more tragedies.”
“This bill is plain common sense as we fight this epidemic,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We have warning labels on so many products, many of which are far less dangerous than opioids. The more information and warning we can give people, the better.”
The measure now heads to the full Assembly for further consideration.