The recent passing and signing of Florida’s new opioid legislation was touted as a significant step towards stemming opioid addiction in our great state. Most talked about was the limitation of scheduled II pain medications (oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) to a three-day supply with the ability to prescribe up to a seven-day supply in special situations.
Thanks to State Attorney General Pam Bondi most of Florida’s “pill mills” have dried up. With that in mind, and as a registered pharmacist and registered consultant pharmacist, I don’t see the new limitations to be any more than what is generally practiced today. My emergency room and surgical center prescriptions are never more than a short period of time as it is. Additionally, and rightfully so, physicians can still prescribe any amounts of these pain killers for their chronically ill patients. Ingesting opioids on a continuing basis is more likely to lead to addiction as opposed to an occasional short-course pain therapy.
Physicians will also be asked to check the state’s prescription drug data base prior to prescribing these medications but no guidelines as yet on how this will be enforced. Most chain-store pharmacists are required to perform this check as policy and most non-chain store pharmacists have adopted the rule as sound professional practice. Based on the preceding, this rule will bring very little to the forefront and is being done for the most part already on the backside.
On the bright side, some money was made available for treatment and the purchase of more antidotes.
In my opinion more emphasis should be made on providing more resources to combat the source of illicit drugs and harsher penalties for offenders.
In summary, and I think my colleagues in the profession would agree, this legislation is just a tiny step in addressing the problem. It’s nothing more than a “feel good” law and makes for a good reelection sound bite.
Mark Mullen, R.Ph., R.CPh.