Florida bill seeks to rein in prescription painkillers

FORT MYERS, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) A prominent Florida Senate Republican has filed a sweeping measure aimed at keeping patients from getting hooked on prescription painkillers.

The proposal (SB 8), filed Monday by Senate Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, mirrors legislation (HB 21) filed this month by House Commerce Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton.

Under the bills, doctors would be limited to prescribing up to seven days’ worth of powerful narcotics and would have to consult a statewide database before ordering most pain medications.

The legislation would limit doctors to writing prescriptions for three days’ worth of controlled substances, such as the highly addictive opioid oxycodone, unless the practitioner decides a seven-day prescription is “medically necessary to treat the patient’s pain as an acute medical condition.”

Health care practitioners would also be required to consult the database, known as the prescription drug monitoring program, before writing prescriptions for controlled substances.

Under current law, doctors can access the program but are not required to use it. The measures also include some changes to the database, which pharmacists are required to use before dispensing most pain medications.

The bills proposed by Boyd and Benacquisto are intended to address a rapidly escalating opioid crisis in Florida, where 14 people die from overdoses every day, according to an interim report by the state’s medical examiners.

“This is ravaging families. It’s ravaging communities. As a human being, you cannot hear what’s going on and the pleas for help and stand on the sidelines,” Benacquisto said in a video released Monday. “This is the moment when we have to take strong action.”

The bills are filed for the 2018 session, which starts in January.

Reporter:Morgan Frances
MorganWINKNews