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Florida’s Small-Business Community Is Gravely Impacted by the Opioid Crisis

March 23, 2018 - 6:00am

Recently, we have seen the significant impact of the opioid epidemic all over the United States. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott issued a statewide public health emergency last year.

This crisis is more than a social problem. Florida’s small-business community is gravely impacted by this widespread issue for many reasons. Our business owners, their employees and families and the very economic structure of our state has been infiltrated by the opioid crisis. For example, work related injuries sometimes provide pain medications that lead to addiction. This is a direct problem that impacts the finances of business owners and consumers -- not to mention all the families impacted by addiction and overdoses.

During a trip to Washington, D.C. last month, I learned that two-thirds of Americans who reported misusing prescription medication were on their company’s payroll at the time. American employers lose $80 billion annually in productivity, absenteeism, accidents and healthcare costs due to drug addiction and abuse.

As Congress appropriates funds to address this very important issue, we urge public support of helpful treatment programs and life-saving products that directly address the opioid crisis. This includes providing naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug, to law enforcement officers and as a co-prescription to Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Expanding access to naloxone for law enforcement will save lives and protect those on the front lines responding to emergency calls. The federal budget should include specific resources for equipping and educating all law enforcement officers with overdose-reversing agents approved by the FDA. The National Drug Control Strategy has called for arming first responders to recognize and manage overdoses since 2010.

Additionally, the vast majority of opioid overdoses are unintentional. Medicaid beneficiaries are prescribed painkillers at twice the rate of non-Medicaid patients and are three to six times more likely to overdose. These patients should be protected from accidental overdose. This would be cost effective for government payers. 

Average ICU costs are more than $92,000 per opioid overdose in the U.S. and 50 percent of opioid-related emergency room visits were paid for by Medicaid or Medicare in 2014. Studies show patients who receive a naloxone co-prescription had 47 percent fewer opioid-related emergency room visits per month in the six months after receipt and 63 percent fewer visits after one year compared with patients who did not receive naloxone. Co-prescribing naloxone would provide tremendous cost savings to the state.

The Florida SBDC Network encourages Congress to fund these proposals and we look forward to seeing Florida shine out from under the dark cloud of addiction and overdoses.  Our small businesses and their families depend on it.

Michael Myhre is CEO of the Florida Small Business Development Council Network. For more information on the Florida SBDC Network, visit


What is the "grave impact" on small business? The author doesn't present any statistics to back up his claim.... rather just giving generic examples of the issue. Are small businesses more or less susceptible to the 80% claim?

If it ain't "glue" or"crack" or cocaine or heroin or meth, it's opioids.... "Slapping wrists" has never been a solution ! Put "Pharma" that has no control over its opioid distributions OUT OF BUSINESS (after the "first one" is shut down, the rest WILL conform...) Who's kidding who ?... "Just follow the money",... as usual.

Until you legalize them, it'll never be solved as a medical problem, not a legal one. And it is the legal part that is causing 95% of the problem. Solution is state selling them at low prices most of which is a tax to pay for any problems which if legal, is a simple medical treatment. Each place would have information, counselors there to help them. The problem would be solved in 2 yrs. As a bonus those needing pain meds can easily get them when needed and as needed instead of being tortured by this vile system of death we have now. As someone who has been around this all my life it is obvious the police, court, lawyer, prison complex cabal that makes them tons of money while destroying lives to me is far more criminal than addicts, dealers. And let it be known less than 10% of people have any problem with addiction and no reason for force others great pain because you are on purpose or incompetently blind to the facts. Last fact is you can't go after 1 type say prescription ones as they just resort to impure underground ones laced with who knows what killing even more. How many more must die before you change your ways and make it a medical problem it is, not a legal one?

"jerry",... We can't just "legalize them" until we "legalize stupidity": So, "stay in line" and eventually we'll get around to you "jerry"...

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