SENATE, No. 2578






Sponsored by:

Senator  NIA H. GILL

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)


District 19 (Middlesex)

Assemblyman  PATRICK J. DIEGNAN, JR.

District 18 (Middlesex)

Assemblyman  SCOTT T. RUMANA

District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)

Assemblyman  PAUL D. MORIARTY

District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblyman  THOMAS P. GIBLIN

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)


District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)


Co-Sponsored by:

Senator Pennacchio and Assemblyman Benson






     Authorizes optometrists to continue prescribing medications containing hydrocodone.



     As introduced.


An Act concerning optometrist prescribing authority and amending P.L.1991, c.385.


     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


     1.    Section 9 of P.L.1991, c.385 (C.45:12-9.11) is amended to read as follows:

     9.  a.  Whenever in any law there is a requirement or duty with respect to the prescription, administration or dispensing of any drug which applies to any person authorized to prescribe that drug, the same shall apply to an optometrist when prescribing, administering or dispensing a pharmaceutical agent pursuant to R.S.45:12-1, except that an optometrist shall not dispense a prescription as provided for in R.S.45:12-1 in an amount exceeding a 72-hour supply of that prescription unless the prescription is dispensed at no charge to the patient.  Subject to the provisions of P.L.1991, c.385 (C.45:12-9.8 et seq.), an optometrist authorized to prescribe, administer, or dispense a pharmaceutical agent shall be permitted to prescribe, administer, and dispense for the purpose of diagnosing and treating deficiencies, deformities, diseases, or abnormalities of the human eye and adnexae pharmaceutical agents classified as Schedule III, IV, and V controlled dangerous substances and, regardless of schedule, pharmaceutical agents containing hydrocodone.

     b.    Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, an optometrist may dispense a pharmaceutical agent, as provided for in R.S.45:12-1, that is delivered to the eye through a contact lens and may dispense such pharmaceutical agent at a charge to the patient.

(cf: P.L.2010, c.12, s.2)


     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.





     This bill codifies current regulations concerning optometrist prescribing authority, including permitting optometrists to prescribe, administer, and dispense pharmaceutical agents containing hydrocodone.

     Under N.J.A.C.13:38-2.4, optometrists certified to prescribe pharmaceutical agents are permitted to prescribe Schedule III, IV, and V controlled dangerous substances.  Pursuant to this authority, optometrists have for many years prescribed products containing hydrocodone, formerly a Schedule III controlled dangerous substance, without incident.

     Effective October 6, 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration in the U.S. Department of Justice rescheduled products containing hydrocodone from Schedule III to Schedule II, meaning that optometrists are no longer authorized to prescribe such products under State law.  This bill provides that, notwithstanding the federal rescheduling of hydrocodone, optometrists will be permitted to continue prescribing pharmaceutical agents containing hydrocodone as they have historically done.  The bill does not otherwise revise or expand the scope of optometrist prescribing authority.

     At least ten other states, including Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Utah have enacted similar legislation authorizing optometrists licensed in those states to continue prescribing pharmaceutical agents containing hydrocodone as they did prior to federal rescheduling.