INSIDER Law
N.J. Gov. Signs Legislation Clearing Doctors to Dispense Supplements

N.J. Gov. Signs Legislation Clearing Doctors to Dispense Supplements

The legislation permits physicians to dispense nutritional supplements to their patients, creating another exception to a law that prohibits doctors from dispensing more than a seven-day supply of drugs or medicine to patients.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently signed legislation that closes a loophole in the law that allowed chiropractors to dispense supplements, but not physicians.

The legislation permits physicians and podiatric physicians to dispense nutritional supplements to their patients, creating another exception to a law that prohibits doctors from dispensing more than a seven-day supply of drugs or medicine to patients and imposing no more than a 10 percent administrative fee on the cost of the medicine. The law previously exempted chiropractic physicians from the restrictions when dispensing certain nutritional supplements.

The broader exception now applies to “a licensed physician, podiatric physician or chiropractic physician who dispenses food concentrates, food extracts, vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes, amino acids, tissue or cell salts, glandular extracts, [nutraceuticals], botanicals, homeopathic remedies, and other nutritional supplements."

Four members of the state’s General Assembly and Senate co-sponsored the legislation, including state senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, a Democrat.

"This bill allows patients to access vitamins and health supplements provided by a physician they know and trust," Cruz-Perez said in a press release. "Additionally, they have the assurance that these prescriptions are coming from a professional who knows their medical history."

The Senate and General Assembly both unanimously approved the bill, according to Cruz-Perez. Other cosponsors of the legislation did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment.

Earlier this month, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) urged Christie to sign the legislation. Some of CRN’s members sell private-label products to physicians and want to reach doctors in New Jersey, said the trade association’s Mike Greene, vice president of government relations, in a phone interview.

“CRN applauds forward-thinking legislation—focused on promoting a health care vs. sick care system—and agrees this would be beneficial to consumers," wrote Ingrid Lebert, CRN’s director of government relations, in a Jan. 8 letter to Christie, who is running for president.

More than three quarters of U.S. physicians (79 percent) and nurses (82 percent) recommend dietary supplements to their patients, according to a 2007 “Life…supplemented" Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study. The same study found that about three in four physicians personally use vitamin, mineral, herbal and other supplements either regularly, occasionally or seasonally.

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