- Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Friday to establish a Statewide Council on Opioid Abatement.
- The council, consisting of 10 members including the state Attorney General, will advise governments, review settlement funds, and analyze the severity of the crisis using data.
- The bill also expands access to emergency opioid medications and allows pharmacists to prescribe and dispense them to reduce opioid-related deaths.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation into law on Friday to create a Statewide Council on Opioid Abatement within the Department of Children and Families. According to the bill, the agency will be constructed to enhance the development of state and local efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
The council will be composed of 10 members, including the state Attorney General, appointed by different state agencies and associations. The members will serve two-year terms and advise state and local governments on methods to resolve or remedy the opioid epidemic, review how settlement monies recovered from the opioid litigation have been spent, and work with the Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council.
The council, as outlined within the bill, will utilize data from local, state, and national agencies to analyze the current status and severity of the opioid epidemic both regionally and statewide, in order to provide advice to state and local governments.
Once formulated, the council’s first meeting is required to occur no later than August 31 of this year, and quarterly thereafter, or upon the call of the chair or two other members.
“The future is never guaranteed, especially when dealing with these issues,” said Sen. Jason Pizzo, who supported the measure. “This is going to save lives.”
The bill also broadens restrictions on how emergency opioid medications are permitted to be administered, specifically via prefilled injection devices. The measure additionally allows pharmacists to prescribe and dispense such medications.
Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Boyd stated on the Senate floor last month that the expansion of who can prescribe emergency antagonists may help to increase access to life-saving medication and decrease the number of opioid-related deaths.
“As we’ve talked before, sadly this problem is not going away, and we’ve got to continue this fight,” he said.
Earlier this year, DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced plans to utilize $205.7 million from the state’s Opioid Settlement Agreement to create an Office of Opioid Recovery.
The office will also operate as an arm of the Department of Children and Families and oversee treatment and recovery efforts throughout the state. The money will be spent on establishing the office, improving access to treatment and recovery services, and developing educational prevention materials, as well as expanding the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) Network.
The Florida Opioid Settlement Agreement is a legal agreement between the state of Florida and several major pharmaceutical companies to settle claims related to their alleged role in the opioid epidemic. Under the terms of the agreement, pharmaceutical companies, including Walgreens, will pay the state of Florida $1.1 billion over a period of 18 years.
The settlement resolves allegations that the pharmaceutical companies played a role in creating the opioid epidemic by engaging in deceptive marketing practices and failing to adequately monitor and report suspicious orders of prescription opioids. The companies denied any wrongdoing but agreed to settle the claims to avoid further litigation.