Law will require N.H. pharmacists to label opioids, hand out pamphlets detailing risks 

  • Jeanne and Jim Moser hold up a photo of their son, Adam, who was 27 when he died of a fentanyl overdose in 2015. The Mosers believe Adam’s addiction started after he found prescription opioid painkillers in the family’s home.  Rich Beauchesne / Seacoast Online 

Monitor staff
Published: 7/16/2019 6:24:30 PM

Jeanne and Jim Moser were prescribed several rounds of opioid painkillers after undergoing joint replacement surgeries in their hands, knees and hips.

Jeanne Moser said she didn’t like how the pills made her feel light-headed and nauseous. She weaned herself off them after a couple of days and put the excess painkillers in a kitchen cabinet for storage.

The East Kingston couple did not think about the pills again until years later after they learned their oldest son Adam had died of a drug overdose.

“It was a living nightmare. We realized that he had probably started his addiction by taking the medication he found in our house,” Jeanne said. “At the time we had no idea how addictive they could be.”

Starting next year, pharmacies in New Hampshire will be required to place orange stickers on the cap of opioid prescription bottles that says “OPIOID” and a warning label that says “Risk of addiction and overdose,” and hand out informational flyers warning of the risks of addiction, as a result of legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu last week.

It’s a part of an initiative led by advocates and medical professionals to better inform users of opioid painkiller about the long-term harm they can inflict.

“I believe that when people understand the risk, they can make better decisions,” said Rep. Tom Loughman D-Hampton, a sponsor of House Bill 359. “Year after year, we see hundreds of people lose their lives and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Many people who suffer from substance abuse disorders begin their addictions by taking legal prescription medication, Loughman said. For Adam, his addiction started with prescription medication, he then turned to buying pills on the street and later fentanyl, the drug that took his life.

The Mosers said that back in 2015, when Adam died, they did not think to lock up the medication when it was in the house, or bring it to a police station or a hospital dropbox when they were done with it.

“We had no idea that they had an addictive nature and ultimately a fatal one,” Jeanne Moser said.

A 2015 National Safety Council survey found that 30 percent of all people who had been prescribed painkillers by a doctor were not aware that those painkillers contained opioids.

Jeanne said a sticker and warning label on a pill bottle would make her think twice about how to handle taking the drug and keeping it in her house.

“Usually, people just skip over reading the fine print on medication. This will make people stop and think,” she said. “There is a necessary reason for opioids in health care, but you need to be able to get rid of them properly and know how to store them safely.”

The bill requires the governor’s commission on alcohol and drug abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery to develop a handout this year on the risks of opioids and how to mitigate them for persons who are receiving prescriptions for opioids which will be given to each person who picks up an opioid prescription from every pharmacy in the state.

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