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House Poised To Pass Opioid Measure

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The House on Thursday could approve a plan that would impose prescription limits to help address growing opioid use and abuse in Florida.

House members took up the bill Wednesday and readied it for a vote. Under the bill (HB 21), sponsored by Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, opioid prescriptions would be limited to three-day supplies, though seven-day supplies would be allowed if deemed medically necessary.

The prescription restrictions wouldn’t apply to patients suffering pain related to cancer, terminal illness, palliative care or serious traumatic injuries.

The bill also would require health-care practitioners to consult the state’s prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances. If the system has operational problems or it cannot be accessed due to temporary technological or electrical failures, physicians would not be required to consult the database. But they would be required to document the information in patient medical records and would be limited to prescribing three-day supplies or less of pain relievers.

The bill also would authorize the Department of Health to share and exchange database information with other states and would authorize the database to interface with electronic health systems used by health-care practitioners and facilities.

The House announced on Wednesday that it was going to include in the bill money to address the opioid epidemic. The money had been included in the House’s proposed health-care budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The Senate included its proposed funding increases for the opioid crisis in a bill (SB 8) that is a counterpart to Boyd’s measure.

The House and Senate bills are not identical. Among the differences, the Senate measure would not allow exclusions from the prescription restrictions for cancer patients, trauma patients or the terminally ill.