NJ seeks to fight opioid crisis by limiting pills

Brendan Cole was a lacrosse player in high school. He graduated and went off to the University of Richmond where he had a promising future. But his life was cut too short. At 22 he died from a heroin overdose.

Brendan's mother now shares his story. Gail Cole says her son began experimenting with prescription pain pills he had been prescribed for surgery. She and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office travel to local high schools and talk to freshman about drug addiction.

An opioid and heroin epidemic is sweeping New Jersey, and officials want to put a stop to it. Doctors in the Garden State can prescribe 30 days' worth of opioid painkillers, such as Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin. But a proposed law would limit the amount of narcotics prescribed for acute pain.

New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino is using his power to enforce some of the toughest restrictions on prescription painkillers by imposing a five-day limit on prescription pain meds.

Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal says last year alone 90 people in the county died to overdoses, the majority of which were heroin and opioid related.  For the past three to four years, Grewal says the problem has been pretty steady and there is no let up this year. In January alone 6 people died.

But not everyone is on board with the five-day limit. The Medical Society of New Jersey says it understands there is an opioid problem. However it does not agree doctors just prescribing five days' worth of prescription pain killers because it says it is unfair for patients with severe pain. CEO Lawrence Downs says the society would like doctors to be able to prescribe up to the 7 days in cases of mastectomy, thoracic surgery, and other procedures that may require more than five-day supply.