A proposal intended to impose tougher restrictions on prescription drugs and reinforce treatment programs in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic in Florida was signed into law Monday morning in Bradenton by Gov. Rick Scott.
The Legislature also agreed to spend in it’s budget that Scott signed on Friday includes $65 million in state and federal resources for prevention and treatment for opioid addiction.
“Last week, I signed the Securing Florida’s Future budget, which includes more than $65 million to support Florida’s fight against opioids, and I am proud to continue our fight against opioids by signing this major legislation today,” Gov. Scott said. “This bill will help limit the chance of drug addiction, reduce the ability for dangerous drugs to spread in Florida’s communities and give vulnerable Floridians needed support. We made a commitment in Florida to do everything possible to help communities impacted by the national opioid epidemic..”
The law aims to reduce the number of people who abuse street drugs, like heroin and fentanyl, after becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. It does that by imposing a three-day limit on prescriptions issued to help patients deal with acute pain. That limit could be extended to a seven-day supply of painkillers if a doctor determines a longer supply is medically needed for a patient.
Those with severe medical conditions, including cancer patients, people who are terminally ill and those who suffer from major trauma, would be exempt from the restrictions.
It’s estimated the state’s opioid epidemic claims the lives of at least 16 people in Florida every day.
The crisis became so severe in Florida that Scott declared a state of emergency in May 2017. In the previous year, there were 1,390 deaths in Florida due to fentanyl overdoses, 952 caused by heroin, 723 deaths attributed to oxycodone, and 245 as the result of hydrocodone abuse.
The new law would mandate that doctors check with the state’s prescription drug database, known as the prescription drug monitoring program, before they prescribe or administer drugs.
The Legislature included nearly $1 million to upgrade the database to better interact with doctors’ offices and their health records systems.
A large portion of the money appropriated by the Legislature, $14.6 million in recurring funds, will go to the Department of Children and Families to provide greater access to treatment programs for those with opioid addictions.
The law also provides $6 million to the state’s court system to provide treatment to those who are addicted to opioids and $5 million to the Florida Department of Health to provide m
edication to emergency responders that counteracts the effects of an overdose.