One of the country’s strictest opioid-prescribing laws went into effect in Florida on Sunday, July 1. The purpose of the law is to reduce opioid addiction and overdose, by making it more difficult for patients to take the drugs long enough to become dependent.
The text of Florida’s new law can be seen here.
Opioid addiction and overdose have become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
If everything works as it should, the law will save lives and patients with a legitimate need for painkillers will still be able to get the treatment they need. But during the transition period, patients with chronic pain may be left scrambling to find new doctors.
New Restrictions and Requirements
If you’re hurt in an accident or require surgery in Florida, your doctor will only be allowed to prescribe three to seven days-worth of opioid medication for your acute pain, under the new law. Doctors and other healthcare professionals who feel that their patients need more than a three-day supply must document the seven-day prescription as medically necessary. The limit does not apply to patients with chronic pain.
Before prescribing or dispensing a controlled substance, they must check the state’s database, called the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), looking for the patient’s prescription history. This does not just apply to opioids. It applies to all controlled substances except for Schedule V drugs, such as diarrhea medications.
After a controlled substance is prescribed or administered, the provider is required to report it to the PDMP no later than close of business the next day.
Those who prescribe controlled substances are required to take a two-hour class on the law, but they do not have to complete the class until January 31, 2019. In the meantime, many doctors may err on the side of caution and refuse needed medications because they do not fully understand how the law works and what they are allowed to do for their patients.