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Diegnan Bills Combatting Opioid Abuse Signed into Law

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Two bills sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. combatting the rise of opioid abuse were signed into law by the Governor.

The first law, S-2402, requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to develop an educational fact sheet that provides information concerning the use and misuse of opioid drugs in the event that a student-athlete or cheerleader is prescribed an opioid for a sports-related injury.

Under the bill, school districts and nonpublic schools that participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading programs are required to distribute the fact sheet annually to the parents or guardians of student-athletes and cheerleaders, and to obtain a signed acknowledgement of receipt of the fact sheet by the students and their parents or guardians.

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“Each year, more Americans die from drug overdoses than in traffic accidents, and more than three out of five of these deaths involve an opioid,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Ensuring that our student athletes, cheerleaders and their parents are educated about the dangers of opioids and the potential for abuse can help boost prevention efforts.”

The second law, S-2970, will allow licensed hospice care centers to choose to accept unused medications from patients that have received treatment from that center for disposal. The hospice care center may only receive unused medicine from patients once they no longer seek treatment at that center with written authorization from the patient or a guardian. The bill outlines procedure for hospice care centers to follow upon electing to accept unused prescriptions for disposal.

“Safe disposal of dangerous medications like prescription painkillers is one way to keep these substances out of the wrong hands and will help reduce the chance that others accidentally take or intentionally misuse the medicine,” said Senator Diegnan. “Making it easier to dispose unused medication, especially at places like hospice care programs where we know they are often used, will help keep New Jersey families safer.”

Hospice care patients are often prescribed a number of medications, which may include powerful opioid medications used to manage pain symptoms. Allowing hospice care programs to accept a hospice care patient’s unused prescription medications will help ensure the safe and speedy disposal of these medications and reduce the risk that the medications may be stolen, diverted, or accidentally ingested.

The nationwide rise of opioid abuse over the last decade has been especially severe in the state of New Jersey, where the drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 44 people die in the US each day from an overdose of painkillers prescribed by doctors.  

The Governor signed both S-2402 and S-2970 into law on July 21, 2017.

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