Florida lawmakers move closer to imposing opioid prescription limits

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Bureau Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 10:08 PM EST

State lawmakers moved closer to passing restrictions designed to address Florida's opioid addiction epidemic Wednesday, even as some doctors warned that patients dependent on prescription painkillers could suffer.

  • Lawmakers close to passing legislation for opioid prescription limits
  • Doctors critical of measure, says patients could suffer
  • Would limit painkiller prescriptions to 3-day supplies, in most cases

Two of the legislature's top health committees took up opioid bills, with one of them, the House Health Quality Subcommittee, voting its legislation out unanimously.

But the Senate Health Policy Committee was pelted with critical testimony from doctors who took exception to the marquee proposal being considered by both chambers.

The bills would limit prescriptions of painkillers like Oxycontin and Fentanyl to three-day supplies in most cases, with a seven-day supply allowed for patients recovering from major surgeries.

Brandon Luskin, an orthopaedic surgeon and Palm Beach County Medical Society board member, told the panel that 200,000 to 300,000 Floridians undergo knee and hip replacement surgeries every year, with the majority of them requiring more than a week’s worth of painkillers after their procedures.

"When they go home, if they go home with a seven-day supply of pain medication, and they have to come back to the clinic for a new prescription, it is almost infeasible for some of these people to get back to the clinic within a seven-day time frame," Luskin said.

The criticism of the Senate's opioid measure, which also included pushback from a bevy of lobbyists, could slow its movement through the legislative process.

The bills also include some widely supported proposals, like sharing Florida's prescription drug database with other states and mandating state-sanctioned prescribing training for doctors.

Wednesday evening, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has made combating opioid addiction a signature priority, saluted the House subcommittee's vote.

"Our fight against the national opioid crisis claiming lives in Florida continues, and this legislation would help bolster state efforts and save lives," Bondi said in a statement.