Florida Medical Board agrees to revamp decades-old rule on weight-loss drugs

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Acknowledging that the regulation is inconsistent with Florida law and is out-of-step with current practice standards, members of the Florida Board of Medicine agreed to revamp a rule for medication-assisted weight loss that has been in effect for more than two decades.

“The whole area of practice has changed significantly since this rule has gone into effect, and the Board of Medicine really has not changed the rules at all since then,” Board of Medicine general counsel Ed Tellechea said during a meeting Friday.

The rule lays out standards of practice for the prescription of obesity-treatment drugs. At issue is a provision that requires physicians to have in-person consultations with patients before prescribing the medications.

Tellechea acknowledged the provision was inconsistent with the state’s telehealth law, which does not require in-person consultations.

Eight New York-based physicians who are registered to practice telemedicine in Florida and the Pennsylvania-based weight loss practice Calibrate Health Medical P.C. submitted a request to the board May 3 asking it to waive the rule or to issue a variance so that any Florida-licensed telehealth provider or Florida physician can use Calibrate’s telehealth platform and be compliant.

Meanwhile, as the board begins drafting a new rule, Tellechea recommended that the variance be granted, noting that “if push comes to shove, this rule can be challenged.”

But Tellechea said the board cannot provide a blanket waiver for all Florida physicians using Calibrates’s telehealth platform and that the variance can only apply to the eight physicians who requested it.

Additionally, Tellechea said the board cannot grant a variance to Calibrate because the board has no regulatory authority over the company. 

The Board of Medicine’s weight-loss rule has been in effect since Feb. 17, 1998, and hasn’t been updated.