Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Shavonda Sumter and Joseph Lagana to help curb New Jersey’s heroin and opioid crisis gained final legislative approval on Thursday in the Assembly.
The bill (A-709) would require pharmacies and prescribers to supply patients with a Division of Consumer Affairs notice publicizing available drug take-back programs and giving suggestions for the safe disposal of drugs with each controlled dangerous substance dispensed.
The sponsors highlighted the bill’s focus on creating awareness, which they believe is a fundamental part of preventing fatal interactions with prescription medication.
“With its emphasis on educating the public, this measure is critical in our effort to prevent overdoses and save lives,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill will help prevent drugs from getting into the wrong hands and, hopefully, eliminate the scourge that is prescription drug abuse in New Jersey.”
“The more people understand the dangers of prescription drugs, the more attentive they will be about how they dispose of them,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation acknowledges the fact that stopping prescription drug abuse has to be a community effort.”
“Prescription drug abuse kills more people each day than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined in America,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Unfortunately, addiction to these drugs can have its origin not on the street corner, but in the medicine cabinet. By giving clear directions on how to properly dispose of these drugs, we can help stop problems before they begin.”
The bill, which previously passed unanimously in the Assembly but on Thursday returned to the Assembly with amendments clarifying certain provisions, gained approval 71-0-0. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk.