As President Trump is poised to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, Florida’s governor Rick Scott has also vowed to wage war on this serious public health crisis in the Sunshine State. Scott’s plan is to ask Florida lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to impose a 3-day limit on opioid prescriptions. This proposal would also require physicians and healthcare workers, including those at primary medical care centers and urgent care clinics, who prescribe controlled substances to submit prescription and patient information to the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program ( PDMP). The Governor also plans to invest over $50 million for substance abuse treatment, counseling, and recovery services.
Governor Scott’s proposal is hinged on a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that showed that after just 3 days of initial use of opioid drugs, approximately 6% of patients had continuous use of opioids one year later. After 11 days of initial use, 25% of patients were still using opioids one year later.
However, some lawmakers and healthcare officials are skeptical about the 3-day cap and have expressed concerns over what this would mean for patients who genuinely need narcotic painkillers to control serious pain. There is also concern that a 3-day cap will increase copay costs for such medications as patients will be faced with refilling prescriptions multiple times if they are deemed medically necessary.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), reports that more than 90 Americans die daily after overdosing on opioids. Abuse of prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have been linked to this lethal epidemic. Healthcare providers, including those at primary medical care centers and urgent care clinics are on the front line of this epidemic as the addiction either starts there as controlled substances are prescribed, or end there as they are seeing alarming numbers of opiate overdoses.