In response to the opioid epidemic ravaging New Jersey, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) have turned their focus toward educating prescribers on safe and responsible prescribing.

PDFNJ and Horizon BCBSNJ - through its philanthropic arm, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey -recently launched a one-hour continuing medical education webinar, “Do No Harm: Exploring Strategies for Safer Prescribing of Opioids." It is available to all prescribers across the state to strengthen safer prescribing of opioids through education.

“Prescriber education is key to helping stem the tide of the opioid epidemic,” PDFNJ Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “This online course will provide doctors, dentists, nurses and nurse practitioners with the information they need to make the best decisions for their patients. We know this effort will make an impact.”

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The course is part of a new two-year Knock Out Opioid Abuse initiative to address the opioid epidemic through community outreach, prescriber education, parent education and a statewide awareness campaign. The campaign will include a new micro-website that will be an informational and interactive hub on opioids, transit and outdoor advertising, and social media communications.

“Opioid abuse prevention efforts should start right in a clinical setting, whether that setting is a doctor’s office, dental practice, hospital or other health care environment,” said Jonathan R. Pearson, executive director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “That’s why Horizon is working with the Partnership to ensure that all prescribers become accredited in best practices for safe and effective prescribing for pain management.”

The accredited curriculum will be accessible through the website, www.KnockOutOpioidAbuse.DrugFreeNJ.org/NJSafeRx, for an administrative fee of $35. The course satisfies the New Jersey one-hour continuing education requirement concerning prescription opioid drugs, including education on responsible prescribing practices, alternatives to opioids for managing and treating pain, and the risks and signs of opioid abuse, addiction and diversion.

The course is specifically tailored for healthcare professionals including doctors of medicine, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, residents and fellows, medical students, and dentists.

The curriculum includes information from medical, legal and law enforcement perspectives. The course instructors are:

  • Lewis S. Nelson, MD, professor and chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Rutgers NJMS; Chief of Service, Emergency Department, University Hospital
  • Andrew E. Blustein, partner/director, Garfunkel Wild, P.C. Attorney at Law
  • Assistant Special Agent in Charge Christopher Jakim, Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division

Over the past six years, PDFNJ has teamed with the Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program to coordinate the Do No Harm prescriber education series. The series provides medical professionals information on the need for safer prescribing practices. More than 97 percent of attendees have said they have implemented safer prescribing practices based on the training they have received.