N.J. Would be First-in-Nation with Opioid Warning Label Law
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats John Armato, Vince Mazzeo and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to require that all prescription opioid medications include a warning sticker advising patients of the risk of addiction and overdose was approved by the full Assembly, 74-0-2, on Monday.
New Jersey would be the first state in the nation with a permanent law to take mandating a warning label 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 way that can save lives.”
“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.”
Drug labeling regulations are set by the federal Food & Drug Administration, and any state legislation would be pre-empted by federal statute. However, adding a warning sticker to the bottle can be done on a state-to-state basis.
This bill (A-3292) would require the Director of the Consumer Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Health, to promulgate language for the sticker, which at a minimum, is to indicate the medication is an opioid, and that opioid medications carry a risk of addiction and overdose.
Furthermore, it directions the sticker to be red in color with text printed in a white font to be easily and clearly readable.
Armato has been on the front lines of the combating the opioid and heroin epidemic in Atlantic County. He serves on the Atlantic County Opioid Task Force, is a certified recovery coach, and runs a monthly meeting for co-dependents of those suffering from the disease of drug addiction.
“In 2018 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 all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, recovery groups, and all stakeholders to pass this important piece of legislation.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on March 5. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.