NJ Eases Rules for Prescribing Opioid Antidotes

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners (BME) issued a Certificate of Waiver to all New Jersey licensed physicians waiving enforcement of rules requiring a prescription to be written in the name of a person to whom a drug is administered (allowing prescription to be written to friends, family or first responders), examination before and follow-up after the issuance of a script. The Waiver is in effect for a year or until the BME adopts revised regulations.

The Waiver is in response to the Overdose Prevention Act, signed into law by Governor Christ Christie on May 2, 2013, which is designed to remove barriers to access of a common opioid antidote and encourage witnesses and victims of overdose to seek medical assistance. Also known as the Good Samaritan Law, the Overdose Prevention Act provides immunity, under specific circumstances, from criminal and civil liability to healthcare providers and pharmacists who prescribe and dispense, as well as non-healthcare providers who administer, naloxone hydrochloride (Narcan) and other FDA approved opioid antidotes to individuals believed to be having an opioid-overdose.

Pending legislation would also expand the scopes of practice of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and authorize first responders (including police, firefighters, and other persons who, in their professional capacity, are dispatched to the scene of an emergency) to include the administration of opioid antidotes under emergency circumstances and after receiving training. The new bill would also extend immunity under the Overdose Prevention Act to EMTs and first responders who administer opioid antidotes.

The law would make permanent a March 20, 2014, the Department of Health waiver (set to expire on March 1, 2015) which authorized EMTs and certain first responders who are certified as EMTs to administer opioid antidotes in the course of their professional practice with immunity under the Overdose Prevention Act.

If you have questions about the Overdose Prevention Act or have other legal questions, please contact our office