Assemblywomen Nancy F. Muñoz and Amy Handlin said they will introduce legislation increasing initial prescriptions for opioid medications from five to seven days. The bill is in response to legislation (A3/S3) approved by the General Assembly today that limits such prescriptions to five days. The five-day limit is part of a broader bill addressing the state’s opioid epidemic.

Muñoz and Handlin said the seven-day limit is more in line with the CDC’s recommendations.

“As a registered nurse, I appreciate that A3 addresses the key issues of this crisis – supply, education and treatment, however, nowhere in the CDC’s guidelines does it say opioid prescriptions should be limited to five days,” said Muñoz (R-Union). 

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CDC guidelines recommend doctors prescribe the lowest effective dose in a quantity no greater than needed. It states that “three days or less will often be sufficient,” but “more than seven days will rarely be needed.”

“We don’t want patients who have a legitimate need for these medications to be punished for the transgressions of abusers,” said Handlin (R-Monmouth).

Muñoz said limiting initial prescriptions to five days will have an adverse effect on patient care. 

“Since physician offices are not open on weekends, some patients will run out of pain medication before they can get back to see their doctor,” she explained. “As a result, they will go to emergency rooms, which are often overcrowded and expensive. Even if they are able to get to their doctor’s office or a hospital-based clinic for a five-day follow-up, they will be required to pay a co—pay. Many also lack transportation and will have to pay for transport. This will have a direct impact on patient care.

“While well intended, the current legislation is too broadly written,” added Muñoz. “The five day limit is an arbitrary number and needs to be increased based on CDC guidelines.”