TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Solving the opioid crisis is one of the top agenda items for this legislative session. Gov. Rick Scott is supporting a limit on prescriptions and additional training for doctors in the session that begins Tuesday.
The bill allows for prescriptions to be extended up to seven days if a doctor deems it medically necessary.
In 2017, an average of 16 Floridians died with opioids in their system each day. The year before it was just 10.
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Fort Myers) said overprescribing not only results in people developing a dependence on the drugs, but it also results in more drugs on the streets.
“The pills get stolen or somebody sells them,” Benacquisto said.
To tackle the issue, Benacquisto is sponsoring legislation that would restrict how many opioids a doctor could prescribe. Single prescriptions would be limited to three days.
The bill also requires doctors to go through training every other year for best practices in order to continue prescribing opioids.
“(It would be) to medically manage people who have surgery, yet not set them up for addiction," said Mark Fontaine, the executive director of Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association.
The state would also expand its prescription drug monitoring database by sharing the list with other states. By expanding the database across state lines, lawmakers hope to prevent people from doctor-shopping.
“If I go to Georgia and I get a doctor or two, and I get a doctor or two here, and there's no information being exchanged, then I can literally walk away with four prescriptions to opioids and nobody would know," Fontaine said.
Doctors would be required to look patients up in the database before prescribing them opioids.
“To make sure that physicians are aware of what their patients are doing,” Benacquisto said.
If passed, Florida would be the second state to restrict prescriptions to three days. The only other state with such restrictions is Kentucky.