Mandate that doctors warn young patients on opiate addiction is sought in N.J.

 Elaine Pozycki urges lawmakers to act on the legislation requiring doctors to discuss the risks of addiction before prescribing an opiate-based painkiller to anyone under 18. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Elaine Pozycki urges lawmakers to act on the legislation requiring doctors to discuss the risks of addiction before prescribing an opiate-based painkiller to anyone under 18. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Drug-control advocates want New Jersey lawmakers to move on a bill requiring doctors to discuss the risks of addiction before prescribing an opiate-based painkiller to anyone under 18.

Elaine Pozycki, who chairs the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said her son died after becoming addicted to pain relievers that were prescribed to treat a sports injury.

“Had I been told about the addictive qualities of the medicines Steven was prescribed, I would have known to look for alternatives. I would have known to look for the signs and symptoms of abuse,” she said.

Dr. Andrew Kolondy, the co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, said he believes the legislation would have a significant impact.

“If doctors and patients and parents understood that hydrocodone and oxycodone were essentially heroin pills, I think they would be much more careful,” he said.

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Herb Conaway, a physician, hasn’t posted the bill for a vote.

“I don’t believe that the government has a role in interfering with the speech that occurs between patients and physicians,” said Conaway, D-Camden.

Doctors have to tell patients about the risks of the medications they prescribe, he said, and the legislation isn’t needed.

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