The Start to a Solution (New Opioid Law)
As anyone who has read our blogs over the last few years knows, the use and abuse of opioid medication has been a major concern of our practice. We have tried to bring attention to the fact that these drugs are being over-prescribed and are leading to addiction and death to many. Finally, someone is listening.
A new bill has just passed in Florida that will institute prescription limits on opioids and increase funding for treatment.
The legislation to combat the state’s opioid crisis, which claims the lives of at least 16 state residents per day, was a top priority of the government.
According to a 2017 report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, opioids were identified as either the cause of death or were present in the decedent’s system in 5,725 cases in 2016. That’s 1,483 more than in 2015. Numbers have not been released for 2017 but are expected to be much higher.
The new legislation mandates that most initial prescriptions would have a limit of three days for Schedule II painkillers like OxyContin and Fentanyl, but doctors could prescribe up to seven days for acute pain exceptions. It does not place medication limits for trauma cases, chronic pain, cancer, and terminal illnesses.
Florida will be the 25th state since 2016 that has passed legislation that imposes some limits or guidelines on opioid prescriptions. Only Kentucky and Minnesota have statutory limits of three or four days.
The bill also calls for practitioners to complete continuing educations courses, set up a standard of care for practices, and new requirements for prescription drug monitoring programs. There will also be $53.5 million in state and federal grant funding for treatment programs and updates to the state’s prescription database.
Until we start prescribing what is necessary, instead of what the patient wants and expects, we will continue to have problems. Negative patient feedback continues to affect the payment to hospitals, so a disappointed drug seeker will affect the bottom line.
But still, it’s a start.
Controlled Substances; Requires practitioners to complete specified board-approved continuing education course to prescribe controlled substances; defines “acute pain”; provides for adoption of standards of practice for treatment of acute pain; limits prescribing of opioids for acute pain in certain circumstances; requires pain management clinic owners to register approved exemptions with DOH; provides requirements for pharmacists & practitioners for dispensing of controlled substances to persons not known to them; conforms state controlled substances schedule to federal controlled substances schedule; revises requirements for prescription drug monitoring program.
Effective Date: 7/1/2018
- McGinty EE, Stuart EA, Caleb Alexander G, Barry CL, Bicket MC, Rutkow L. Protocol: mixed-methods study to evaluate implementation, enforcement, and outcomes of U.S. state laws intended to curb high-risk opioid prescribing. Implement Sci. 2018 Feb 26;13(1):37. PubMed PMID: 29482599