Tough New Opioid Prescribing Law Takes Place July 1 in Florida

On July 1, Florida enacted one of the strictest opioid prescribing laws in the country. It’s all in response to the opioid epidemic that killed more than 42,000 people in 2016 according to the CDC. The new law that went into effect July 1st in Florida means doctors are now only be able to write a prescription for a three-day supply of opioids for acute pain, or a seven-day supply if its needed -based on the professional judgment of the prescriber. “Once they hit that seven-day mark, the risk of abuse or adverse events goes up a lot; 21% for every week past seven days,” said Dr. Brian Yorkgitis, a trauma surgeon at UF Health in Jacksonville.

“No one wakes up today and says I'm going to be a drug addict. You know, I mean one of my passions about this is my cousin died of opioid addiction,” said Dr. Yorkgitis. Every day patients who have overdosed are brought to the emergency room at UF Health. Across the nation the numbers are staggering. An average of 115 people die each day from an opioid overdose. “We know in a lot of surgical studies that only about 25% of the prescribed pills are used, so 75% percent are out there for diversion. Diversion means that non-patients are taking them; friends, family members and that's really a gateway into the drug addiction,” said Dr. Yorkgitis.

These new restrictions on prescription opioids only apply to patients with acute pain. “So patients who have cancer pain, terminal illnesses that are getting pain medicine their prescriptions will remain the same. The only thing that might change is their wait time in the doctor's office. Every prescription that is written for a controlled substance has to go through a Florida state database called E-FORCSE,” said Dr. Yorkgitis.

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