New Jersey considers warning labels for pain killer containers

This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy. (Toby Talbot/AP Photo, File)

This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy. (Toby Talbot/AP Photo, File)

New Jersey could become the first state to require a warning sticker on opioid prescription bottles.

Assemblyman John Armato said his bill would require a red sticker on the cap of a prescription bottle warning that the medication is an opioid and could cause addiction and overdose.

“One of the reasons is that there’s so many different pain medications out there,”Armato said. “I have had people come to me and say thank god my son is not on an opiate. So what is he taking? He’s taking Percocet. Well that is an opiate.”

Armato is a certified recovery coach who can help overdose victims get into treatment.

He said current warning labels indicating those medications can cause drowsiness and should not be taken when pregnant aren’t enough. He said the warning stickers would be an easy cost-effective way to help educate people about the dangers of opioids and help save lives.

“That have to understand what this is. They have to understand what they’re taking,”Armato said. “Some people are — I’m going to use the word ‘pre-wired’ for being addictive. You could take it. I can take it. We can walk away. A third person takes it, they are addicted.”

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway is also a doctor. He said putting the warning sticker on the top of prescription bottles is a good idea.

“Right now it’s either blank or used for advertising space for the pharmacy but could well serve as a very clear warning to that person who picks up the bottle and opens the lid that they’re dealing with a substance which has potential for harm even though it was prescribed in alleviating pain and increasing functionality.”

The Health Committee voted unanimously to advance the legislation.

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