A bill to limit opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply began weaving its way through the Florida House, passing the House Health Quality Subcommittee on Wednesday.
HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, aims to crack down on opioid abuse by limiting the supply of prescription medication, hoping the shortened window will lessen abuse and overdoses in Florida.
If passed, patients would be restricted to a three-day supply for opioids, unless they met strict conditions allowing them to receive a seven-day supply of the medication. The limit would apply to patients suffering acute pain rather than chronic pain, which is governed under different standards.
All healthcare professionals prescribing or dispensing medication would be required to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide program which monitors prescriptions for controlled substances.
The Department of Health would also be allowed to share data with other states to lessen the likelihood of patients obtaining prescriptions in multiple locations to bypass state limitations.
“This epidemic has gone on for too long and destroyed too many families,” said Boyd Wednesday. “Florida families deserve to know how hard we are working to alleviate opioid abuse, and this proposal exemplifies our collective dedication to fighting the disastrous epidemic.”
Though the bill has gathered support from many politicians in Florida, medical providers expressed hesitations over the legislation, saying the bill would be detrimental to patients who, for example, had just undergone surgery.
“It’s just not reasonable for somebody who’s incapacitated to have to come back every three to seven days,” Palm Beach County hand surgeon Brandon Luskin told the Senate Health Policy committee, which heard the companion bill Wednesday.
Opioid abuse has dominated headlines in recent months due to its skyrocketing prominence nationwide. In October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a “public health emergency,” amplifying the status of a problem taking the lives of thousands of Americans each year.
According to CDC estimates, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled in that time.
Over 5,700 people died from opioid overdoses in Florida last year, an increase of 35 percent from 2015.
Boyd’s proposal falls largely in line with a measure Gov. Rick Scott made in September to combat the opioid crisis in Florida, on top of a $50 million investment in his 2018 budget.
“I know how painful substance abuse is for a family and no family in our state should experience the anguish and heartbreak that opioid abuse brings,” Scott said. “We cannot be too cautious when it comes to helping families. Whether it’s recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Irma, fighting against the Zika virus or combating the opioid epidemic – we will not stop providing Floridians every resource when they need it the most.”
An identical measure, SB 8, sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, is currently making its way through Florida Senate committee stops.
READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS