Lawmakers looking to put opioid legislation back on agenda

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
March 6, 2018

(Image Credit: David Pacey / CC BY 2.0 / MGN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- At the start of the legislative session in January, responding to the state's opioid crisis was on the top of lawmaker's list of priorities.

But, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, some lawmakers are putting the spotlight back on the issue to ensure legislation passes.

"The same number of people that died in Parkland have died since Parkland, and every day before that," said Senator Darryl Rouson (D - St. Petersburg).

The subject came up multiple times while Senators debated legislation on school safety Monday.

"Parents come in with their two and three-year-old children, lay them on the stretcher while they're seeking drugs," said Senator Denise Grimsley (R - Lake Placid).

The effort this year seeks to tackle the supply of medical opioids. Proposed legislation would limit doctors to prescribing just a three-day supply in most cases, with the option of a seven-day supply if it's deemed necessary.

Some in the medical profession say the restrictions included in the bill are too tight.

"Exceptions for cancer treatment, hospice care, surgery and trauma cases should be adopted," said Jeff Scott of the Florida Medical Association.

But other provisions in the bill, like requiring patients, to enter into the Prescription Drug Registry to prevent doctor shopping and requiring ongoing training for doctors to prescribe the medications have strong support.

"Somebody from North Florida can't just go over to Georgia and get their medications," said Mark Fontaine, the president of the Florida Behavioral Mental Health Association. "So, we think that's beneficial."

The Senate bill sets aside more than $53 million for opioid response, but until the budget finalized, that number isn't guaranteed.

The bill was temporarily postponed in the Senate on Tuesday, leaving only three more days for its passage.

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