While the entire country has been impacted by this ongoing issue, more options for prevention and treatment have become paramount to changing the tides. Just this week Rick Scott, the governor of the state of Florida, proposed a strategy for fighting the opioid epidemic that has gained a lot of attention. Scott has decided to ask local lawmakers to impose a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions during the upcoming legislative session. This latest development is one new piece of recent initiatives to combat the opioid crisis.
Florida Governor Opioid Initiatives
During two press conferences on Tuesday, the Florida Governor announced a pushback on an abundance of opioid prescriptions, while also introducing other ideas for fighting addiction.
One of the initiatives Rick Scott is pushing is to require all health-care professionals who prescribe controlled substances to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, also known as the PDMP. This database involves health-care professionals to report important information on patients receiving powerful narcotic medications, including:
- Name of the doctor
- Patient name
- Prescription information after the prescription is filled
But this is not the last of Florida Governor Scott’s opioid initiatives. His office also plans to seek additional reforms such as:
- Fight unlicensed pain management clinics
- Requiring education on responsible opioid prescribing
- Creating more opportunities for federal grants
Scott apparently plans to put some more investments toward helping those already struggling. He is also pushing for more than $50 million for services including:
Part of this initiative is also boosting up the budget of the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council.
At the moment the finer details of the Florida Governor’s proposals are not yet available. However, what it does tell us is that Scott is not ignoring the contribution Big Pharma makes in this current crisis. What we can tell from this outline is that Rick Scott says he is aiming to address prescription opioid pain medication, recognizing it as a key source of the growing problem.
Why 3 Days?
It has been reported time and time again that we should be paying attention to how powerful opioid medications impact rising addiction rates. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a recent study showing how quickly someone could get hooked on these kinds of drugs. In this study it is shown:
- After three days of use, about 6% of patients were still using opioids a year later.
- Five days into use, about 10% of patients were still using opioids a year later.
- After 11 days of use, it jumps to 25% of patients still taking opioids a year later.
So it would seem that between 3-5 days, the chances of continued use almost doubled. Then between 5-11 days the chances of use more than doubled. This development may have helped inspire the idea to limit prescriptions to 3 days.
Back in March, Bradley Martin of the CDC, one of the study authors, told Vox magazine:
“There’s nothing magical about five days versus six days, but with each day your risk of dependency increases fairly dramatically,”
So while day 5 and day 6 may not be a dramatic leap over the edge, some may see this proposed limit as an attempt to at least slow a process down.
The Opposing Argument
The Florida Governor will probably face strong criticism, or at least skepticism, from crowds such as:
The opposition is still very real. This isn’t even the first time Florida lawmakers have seen something like this brought to the table. Just last year Florida legislatures quietly rejected an effort last year to impose a five-day cap on opioid prescriptions for acute pain.
Legislatures and doctors are the only concerns Florida Governor may have to tangle with in order to push this idea through. Other potential obstacles standing against this proposal include:
- Additional out-of-pocket co-pays that patients will incur
- The ability of patients with chronic pain and terminal illnesses to refill prescriptions
The Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians will discuss caps on prescriptions during a board meeting today. Dr. Sanford Silverman is a past president of the Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. In regards to the 3 day limit he stated:
“We don’t think the cap is reasonable since it is a completely arbitrary number,”
“A better idea would be to mandate usage of the PDMP prior to writing an opioid for acute pain.”
Other states have created caps on prescriptions, although some may not seem as strict as the 3 day rule.
- Massachusetts limits the supply to seven days.
- New Jersey set it so that first-time prescriptions for acute pain cannot exceed a five-day supply. Also, patients being treated for cancer or under hospice care are exempt.
- Ohio caps distinguish between patients with chronic pain and those with acute pain.
At the end of the day, similar strategies may not be left up to the lawmakers. If pharmacies decide to impose their own limits on certain prescription drugs the Florida Governor might not have to push very hard to get the limits he is looking for.
CVS announced Friday that the company plans to:
- Limit the daily dosage of pain pills based on their strength
- Require the use of quick-release painkillers before extended-release opioids are dispensed
- Limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions
This restriction will specifically apply to patients who are new to pain therapy.
Only time will tell how far Florida Governor Rick Scott’s new pitch will go, but it seems one thing people can agree on is that the opioid crisis does require some new approaches to prevention.
With more prevention we may be able to slow down the rising rates of opioid addiction. Meanwhile, the need for safe and effective treatment still means a lot for helping those already suffering. Real treatment resources matter. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
The opioid epidemic is a complicated manner with a myriad of potential plans of action. Throughout the country, different strategies are being implemented to reduce the number of deaths
Florida Governor Rick Scott believes community workshops are a part of the solution. Palm Beach County will be the first of four counties next month to host community workshops as part of Governor Scott’s plan to combat the opioid crisis.
The first “community workshop” is set for May 1, according to the Department of children and families.
Monday, May 1, 2017 – 15:00 to 16:30
West Palm Beach Police Department Community Room
West Palm Beach Florida 33401
Two counties will also have the workshops on May 2—Manatee and Orange counties and Duval County’s workshop will be May 3.
Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the workshops on Tuesday. The state Department of Health and the Florida Development of Law Enforcement will host the conferences, and believe the conferences are a good step moving forward.
“Similar to many communities across the nation, Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval, and Orange counties are facing an increase in opioid-related deaths,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said in an email sent to local officials.
“Community workshops will provide important opportunities for DCF, DOH, and FDLE to directly hear the specific needs of affected communities as well as provide information on existing resources, best practices, and grant opportunities.”
Will These Workshops Help Fight Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic in Florida has reached number unheard of in previous years. The main cause for the increase in overdose deaths is related to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is nearly 50 times stronger than heroin, while carfentanil—another controlled substance— is strong enough to tranquilize an elephant!
These powerful opioids get cut into the heroin supply tremendously increasing the risk of overdose fatalities. A recent report stated every 15 hours; someone dies from an opioid overdose in Florida. This does not include drug overdoses from alcohol or other non-opioid drugs.
Governor Rick Scott says the issue is personal for him.
“I had a family member dealing with drug abuse and he struggled with drug abuse his entire life, and I can tell you wish I had known exactly what to do for him,” said Scott.
“I can just tell you it was devastating. His life has been devastated, and it also had a dramatic impact on my mom’s life. And, she died a few years ago, and I can tell you what bothered her the most is that she could not change my brother’s life.”
In addition to contributing to reducing heroin abuse, Gov. Rick Scott says he is eager to hosting community workshops across the state. Law enforcement agencies are also contributing to the effort.
Scott stated in a news conference that he is directing these state organizations to hold workshops:
- Florida Department of Children and Families
- Department of Health
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
If you are in Palm Beach, Duval, Manatee or Orange country, please check with your local agency on the location and time for the next workshop.
Do you think these workshops will be effective in generating ideas on how to fight the opioid epidemic? Clearly, it is a complex problem with a myriad of solutions. Furthermore, if you are struggling, we have professionals waiting to guide you. Do not wait. Call toll-free today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in 2011 the state of Florida started requiring urine tests for welfare applicants and state workers to screen for drugs. While the policy did not last long initially, it has a continued effect on the state’s financial spending as politicians fought long and hard for its reinstatement. This week it was reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott will actually not be looking to a U.S. Supreme Court to review the law, seemingly giving up on the fight for the cause that would have required applicants for welfare benefits to submit to mandatory drug testing.
The Failed Law
The law had evolved into a top priorities of the Republican governor’s first term, but was ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts not too long after being launched. The program only operated for around 3 months before federal courts halted the progression of these policies on grounds that the program was in violation of Florida resident’s constitutional rights.
Once the program had first passed it quickly prompted a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Navy veteran who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits as a single father while working to complete his college degree, and so began a long battle for the law to regain its footing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law on behalf of Luis Lebron, and later the 11th Circuit found that only about 2.6% of Florida welfare applicants failed the drug test doled out by the law during the few months it was in effect, almost half for marijuana use.
According to the ACLU, Governor Scott and his administration collectively spent an estimated $400,000 of Florida’s budget in attempt to defend the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs. In response to a records request from Florida ACLU, Scott’s administration divulged that it had spent over $381,654 trying to appeal for these programs to be allowed to continue as of May 2014.
Passing Judgment on the Program
Howard Simon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Executive Director, said that due to the failure of the appeals to be processed by the deadline, the rulings of the lower courts invalidating the 2011 law will stand. Simon also passed his judgment by speaking out against the law as discriminating against the poor, and went on to state:
“After nearly four years of litigation, this ugly attack on poor Floridians has finally come to an end. This law was always about scoring political points on the backs of Florida’s poor and treating them like suspected criminals without suspicion or evidence.”
U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven in Orlando originally declared the law to be an unconstitutional search and seizure, a ruling that would be later upheld in December by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Scriven and the appeals judges found no evidence of a pervasive drug problem among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program applicants. This after the Scott administration had filed a 72 page brief to an appeals court in Atlanta in attempt to over-rule a lower court’s decision.
Scott’s administration had until a Tuesday deadline to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case, but chose not to do so. Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz stated in an email,
“We chose not to appeal this case. The governor is continuing to protect Florida children any way he can and create an environment where families can get jobs so they are able to pursue their dreams in safe communities.”
Scott’s drug-testing priorities did not end with the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs. He was also fighting for an executive order requiring random drug tests for thousands of state workers.
Not unlike the other legislation, this order was struck down by a Miami federal judge. But this time Scott was not down for the count. It turns out the 11th Circuit made a compromise and reversed part of that ruling, concluding that some categories of workers in sensitive occupations could be reasonably subjected to drug tests. At the moment Florida state officials and a union representing many of them are currently working toward an arrangement that would classify those categories, which would again need to go before a federal judge before going into effect and being enforced.
All in all the concept of accountability has not been completely lost in the process. While it is completely understandable why some would want those who are receiving benefits from the government to be screened for substance abuse to make sure the right money is going to the right place, others still believe that while accountability is important, their constitutional right to privacy supersedes that opinion on whether or not drug use should determine who ‘deserves’ the assistance.
Is this program worth fighting for any longer, or has Florida already spent enough on a program that doesn’t seem worth the effort? While politicians work toward combating drug abuse, the fight against addiction still exists and the right treatment can mean the difference between life and death. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135