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I write to urge you to introduce legislation in your state to arm patients and parents with the information they need to prevent opioid addiction. Every parent, every patient has the right to know the medicines they are about to receive can lead to a dependency and addiction. Prevent Opioid Abuse , the organization I founded, is advancing common sense legislation to accomplish this goal by requiring a conversation about the risks of dependence and where appropriate, the use of a non-opioid pain relief alternative before an opioid-based pain reliever is prescribed. In less than 2 years, versions of this Patient Notification legislation have already passed in seven states: Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio and Rhode Island.
I know the importance of having this knowledge from first-hand experience. My son Steven became dependent on opioid-based pain relievers after they were prescribed to treat a sports injury. Had I just 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 signs and symptoms of abuse.
And I’m not alone. A national survey done by the Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation confirms what I have learned from talking with other parents, that 6 in 10 doctors prescribe opioid painkillers without telling patients that they can be addictive. That is why this legislation is so important and is beginning to fuel a reduction in the number of opioid-based pain reliever prescriptions in the states that are now implementing it. If we are going to curb this epidemic and prevent more families around the nation from going through what my family has been through, we need legislators like yourself to step up and bring this common sense approach to your state.
Given the recent approval by the FDA of Dsuvia, a new opioid painkiller that is ten times more potent than fentanyl, it is even more essential that we make sure that patients and parents in your state are armed with this real time, life saving information.
Requiring a conversation between doctors and patients and parents at the time it is most needed– right before an opioid is prescribed –is a simple, but extremely effective step that will result in saving lives. That is precisely what this legislation does. This common-sense requirement enables patients and parents to recognize signs of dependence, if they surface, and alerts them to less risky alternative methods of pain relief.
As the National Opioid Commission states, “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.” Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. More than 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017.
We stand ready to assist you in any way in the introduction and passage of this life-saving legislation. If you need more information or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Prevent Opioid Abuse Team at 973-316-6433 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below is a copy of the legislation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Elaine Pozycki Founder, Prevent Opioid Abuse www.preventopioidabuse.org