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Senators Back Drug Database Exemption For Hospice

Prescription drugs on a shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In a move aimed at helping hospice providers, a Senate committee Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would create an exemption to a requirement that physicians check a statewide database before ordering opioids for patients.

The proposal (SB 592), filed by Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, would lift the database-checking requirement for doctors prescribing or dispensing drugs to alleviate the pain of patients with terminal conditions.

The exemption also would apply when physicians provide palliative care for “incurable, progressive” illnesses or injuries.

The proposal was approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee, and a similar measure (HB 375) has been filed in the House by Rep. Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican who is a physician.

The state law requiring doctors to check the database is aimed, at least in part, at preventing drug abusers from “doctor shopping” to improperly get controlled substances.

But hospice providers say the requirement causes unnecessary delays and suffering when physicians treat people who are dying.