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Scott Signs Bill Targeting Opioid Addiction, Imposing Limits on Prescriptions

| March 19, 2018

opioids bill

Conduits. (NSF)

Saying it is critical to “stop the addiction in the beginning,” Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed a high-profile bill designed to prevent patients from getting hooked on powerful opioids.

Flanked by House leaders and law-enforcement officers at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Scott approved the measure as the state continues grappling with drug overdoses that have surged in recent years. The bill is designed, at least in part, to prevent patients from getting addicted to prescription painkillers and then turning to street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

“I’ve met a lot of families all across the state who are dealing with drug abuse,” said Scott, who declared a public-health emergency last year because of the opioid issue. “I have a family member that’s dealt with both alcoholism and drug abuse, and I can tell you it’s very difficult for a family.”

Lawmakers unanimously passed the bill (HB 21) on March 9, the final full day of the annual legislative session.

Perhaps the highest-profile part of the bill would place limits on prescriptions that doctors can write for treatment of acute pain. Doctors in many cases would be limited to writing prescriptions for three-day supplies, though they could prescribe up to seven-day supplies of controlled substances if “medically necessary.” Cancer patients, people who are terminally ill, palliative care patients and those who suffer from major trauma would be exempt from the limits.

Some physicians objected during the legislative session to such limits. But House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who took part in Monday’s bill-signing event, defended the approach.

“It (the bill) also says no longer will we prescribe just blanketly 30-day prescriptions. Now we’ll say it’s a three-day prescription, and then you have to come back and warrant (it),” Corcoran said. “Is that an inconvenience? Yes. Is an inconvenience worth saving 50,000 lives nationwide? Absolutely.”

Another high-profile part of the bill will require physicians or their staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances. In the past, Florida has not required physicians to use the database, known as the prescription drug monitoring program. The goal of the database is to prevent addicts from visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies to get supplies of drugs.

Opioids have caused thousands of deaths in Florida in recent years. In 2016, for example, fentanyl caused 1,390 deaths, heroin caused 952 deaths, oxycodone caused 723 deaths, and hydrocodone caused 245 deaths, according to a House staff analysis.

House Commerce Chairman Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican who sponsored the bill, described it as “another step to curbing this epidemic.”

“I grew passionate about this a couple of years ago because I just saw what it was doing,” Boyd said during the bill-signing event at the sheriff’s office. “There’s not a person in this room who doesn’t have a family member or a friend of a family that hasn’t been affected by this epidemic.”

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “Scott Signs Bill Targeting Opioid Addiction, Imposing Limits on Prescriptions”

  1. south florida says:

    i think its a bit much for the ppl out there that tried to take responsibly and as prescribed.
    this is for all the junkies ruining everything for everyone. now we are all lumped in together.

  2. HonkeyDude says:

    WHO Definition of Palliative Care

    Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Palliative care:

    provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;

  3. kevin says:

    While everyone can support efforts to prevent abuse of controlled substances the pendulum has swung too far in this legislation. How can one expect individuals with legitimate disabilities suffering from chronic pain to return to their doctor every fourth day (or in eight days if they can justify a seven day supply) and have the doctor warrant that the patient’s chronic condition is still valid? Not all chronic pain suffers meet the exemption requirements of “Cancer patients, people who are terminally ill, palliative care patients and those who suffer from major trauma”. All the talk about eliminating undue regulations on business yet professional doctors who spend years getting their degree and license are not trusted to adequately manage their patient’s care because of a few who have abused their Hippocratic oath is wrong. Ultimately this over-bearing action will result in more law-abiding patients turning to illegal means to fulfill their legitimate medical need for pain relief.

  4. smarterthanmost says:

    “Doctors in many cases would be limited to writing prescriptions for three-day supplies, though they could prescribe up to seven-day supplies of controlled substances if “medically necessary.”

    Since a “prescription” is an instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes a patient to be provided a medicine or treatment, it would seem all prescriptions are “medically necessary”.

    Just more government gobbledygook.

  5. Dave says:

    We can see who are the abusers of this system by the people commenting against this, sorry guys but the gig is up, no more getting over prescribed pills so u can make extra cash

  6. Jan Reeger says:

    This is absolutely absurd! Corcoran’s comments are ridiculous. Making innocent people suffer is not going to solve the problem. Their “inconvenience” will not save lives. It might even drive them to the streets. Addicts get their stuff on the streets not from legitimate prescriptions.

  7. kevin says:

    In response to “Dave” who accuses those making very reasoned and sensible arguments as being the likely abusers of the system: Dave, your comment might lead others to believe you fried your brain on some hardcore LSD! I suppose that you consider those who speak out against gun control in response to school shootings as potential school shooters too? How stupid of a comment. Take a course in logic.

  8. Iva hadit says:

    Dave, you don’t know any such thing. You’re just being a judgemental jerk, painting everyone with the same brush.

  9. Jamibad says:

    Let our doctors be doctors ! How do politicians have the right to take from a disabled, chronic pain patient if the doctor already has verified, through MRi’s and other test, done everything possible to treat this patient in other ways before ever prescribing opiates! This had become a big witch hunt, ever since they started limiting and or decreasing a CPPs pain medicines, the heroin /fentanyl related deaths have went up! How is it, I can see this, but they can’t! Don’t get me wrong , I see both sides of the spectrum! I know people who depend on their medicine to get up and go to work using their medicine properly, I also have a son, who is an addict, He didn’t start out on stolen medications, nor was he ever prescribed opiates for an injury, he started out doing what ever his friends happened to be doing at the time, peer pressure ! And I intervened, but I guess it wasn’t good enough, Re-habs etc. he is still an addict, take away the pain medications people need to go to work, but he will continue to get his medicine, from the streets! So how is this working for anyone ??

  10. Dave says:

    Hey I stick with my statement. If you dont go along with a law that will save so many lives ,just because u don’t want to drive to the pharmacy one extra time, then I must assume you have altierier motives

  11. Bc. says:

    @ Dave that was one of the stupidest post that I ever read on this site. They are people who suffer every day with pain. My wife she has had 16 operations most major and she gets pain meds to last a month we are both old and don’t drive much any more. So to go to the doctor every 3-7 days will be extremely hard for us. Without her meds she can’t do much her pain gets debilitating. Oh and by the way she never gave or sold her meds to anyone.

  12. Dave says:

    An extra trip to the pharmacy ? Or a bunch of dead people? It’s your choice.

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