February 23, 2017

Please review this entire bulletin and share it with your physician colleagues so they can comply with this new state law as soon as possible.  Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed sweeping new legislation changing state law as to how and when opioid drugs may be prescribed.  This law will take effect on May 16, 2017 but provisions of the law could take effect sooner (as early as the end of this month) depending on the implementation of related emergency regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs.  Under the new law, a practitioner is not permitted to issue an initial prescription for an opioid drug in a quantity exceeding a five-day supply for treatment of acute pain. We advise members to amend their opioid prescribing practices to comply with the law as soon as possible.

Prior to issuing such an initial prescription, a practitioner shall:

  • Discuss with the patient the risks associated with the drug, including risks of addiction and overdose;


  • Explain the reasons why the prescription is necessary;


  • Set forth available alternative treatments;


  • Take and document the results of a thorough medical history;


  • Conduct, as appropriate, a physical examination;


  • Develop a treatment plan focused on the patient’s pain;


  • Access relevant information from the Prescription Monitoring Program.


On the fourth day of an initial prescription a practitioner may, after consultation with the patient, issue a subsequent prescription for the opioid drug. In order to do so, the practitioner must determine that the subsequent prescription is: (i) necessary and appropriate; and (ii) will not present an undue risk of abuse, addiction or diversion.

If a third prescription is issued to a patient for an opioid, the practitioner is required to enter into a pain management agreement with the patient. Finally, any health care professional authorized to prescribe an opioid shall take part in at least one educational credit (in each reporting period) related to prescribing opioid drugs.

Please contact us with any questions.

Written by Stephanie Summers