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Gov. Scott Signs New Opioid Legislation

On Monday, Governor Rick Scott signed legislation that limits opioid prescribing and provides tens of millions in new funding to combat Florida's escalating overdose epidemic. In 2016, opioid overdose death toll in Florida rose to more than 3,300. The newly enacted legislation (HB 21), seeks to curb the epidemic by limiting opioid prescribing, providing $65 million to expand treatment and make the overdose antagonist, Naxolone (also known as Narcan or Evzio), more readily available to law enforcement and paramedics.

The bill imposes a three-day limit on most opioid prescriptions for "acute pain," codifying the CDC guideline for the treatment of acute pain. However, health care providers may prescribe up to a seven-day supply if the physician determines the treatment is "medically necessary," indicates same on the prescription, and documents in the patient's medical record the justification for deviating from the three-day supply limit. The bill also requires the Department of Health to adopt rules establishing guidelines for prescribing controlled substances for acute pain. The new guidelines must be similar to those established for prescribing controlled substances for "chronic pain."

The bill also makes changes to ยง 893.055, Florida Statutes, relating to Florida's prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). The bill requires the prescribing physician or dispenser (or their staff members) to consult the PDMP to review a patient's controlled substance dispensing history prior to prescribing or dispensing the controlled substance. The bill expands direct access to the PDMP to employees of the Department of Defense and the Indian Health Service who have authority to prescribe controlled substances. Currently, only Florida-licensed physicians and prescribers employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may directly access the database. Medical examiners will also have access to the database when performing as necessary to perform an examination or investigation. DOH will also now have the authority to enter into reciprocal agreements to share PDMP information with other states or jurisdiction, as long as the other states' PDMP systems are compatible with Florida's.

House Bill 21 goes into effect on July 1, 2018. If you are a health care provider or prescriber and are affected by this new legislation, contact Weiss, Handler & Cornwell today.

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