TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation to combat opioid abuse in the state of Florida.
HB 21 limits most painkiller prescriptions to a three-day supply in response to the opioid crisis killing at least 16 Floridians every day.
Scott signed the bill Monday morning in Manatee County, which suffered the most deaths in Florida in 2016 from fentanyl analogs. These synthetic versions of fentanyl were designed for veterinary use and can be 5,000 times more lethal than heroin.
“This bill will help limit the chance of drug addiction, reduce the ability for dangerous drugs to spread in Florida’s communities and give vulnerable Floridians needed support. We made a commitment in Florida to do everything possible to help communities impacted by the national opioid epidemic, and I appreciate the work of Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and all the legislators who supported this important priority,” said Gov. Scott.
The law also directs $53.5 million in grants to treatment programs, and updates Florida’s prescription database to facilitate tracking each patient’s medication history in the state and nationally.
Another high-profile part of the bill will require physicians or their staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances. In the past, Florida has not required physicians to use the database, known as the prescription drug monitoring program. The goal of the database is to prevent addicts from visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies to get supplies of drugs.
The new prescription limits, which allow doctors to prescribe up to seven days in cases of acute pain, take effect July 1.
Opioids have caused thousands of deaths in Florida in recent years. In 2016, for example, fentanyl caused 1,390 deaths, heroin caused 952 deaths, oxycodone caused 723 deaths, and hydrocodone caused 245 deaths, according to a House staff analysis.
House Commerce Chairman Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican who sponsored the bill, described it as “another step to curbing this epidemic.”
“I grew passionate about this a couple of years ago because I just saw what it was doing,” Boyd said during the bill-signing event at the sheriff’s office. “There’s not a person in this room who doesn’t have a family member or a friend of a family that hasn’t been affected by this epidemic.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)