Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opioid Abuse Bill Facing Resistance from Doctors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opioid Abuse Bill Facing Resistance from Doctors

Article excerpt

Byline: Zac Anderson GateHouse Media

Legislation aimed at combating Florida's opioid abuse problem is facing resistance from medical providers who worry the bill places unreasonable restrictions on pain management efforts.

The legislation - a top priority of Gov. Rick Scott's and leaders in both legislative chambers - would make a variety of changes to state law. But the most significant is a requirement that opioid prescriptions for acute pain be limited to a three day supply, or seven days if a doctor determines it is medically necessary.

Palm Beach County hand surgeon Dr. Bradon Luskin told a state Senate committee Wednesday that even a sevenuday supply of opioids often might not be enough for patients who have just undergone major surgery.

"It's just not reasonable for somebody who's incapacitated to have to come back every three to seven days," Luskin told the Senate Health Policy committee, which held a workshop on the bill.

The committee initially was scheduled to vote on the legislation Wednesday, but the bill's sponsor, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, delayed the vote to work on some amendments.

Benacquisto, RuFort Myers, said after the hearing that "we are looking at" the complaints raised by physicians. But she said the issue is "a balancing act" because statistics show people are more likely to become addicted the longer they're on prescription opioids.

"I am going to be very careful about how we move forward with any adjustment to dosage timelines," Benacquisto said.

The House sponsor of the opioid bill, Bradenton Republican Rep. Jim Boyd, also said he wants to be careful not to "water down the intent of our initiative" but added that "there may be some way to accomodate" some of the physicians' concerns. The House Health Quality Subcommittee unanimously approved the legislation but only after lawmakers and audience members expressed a number of misgivings about various provisions.

Some lawmakers said they were sympathetic to physicians' concerns about placing such tight limits on pain pill dosages, particularly when it comes to pills that are prescribed for major surgeries. …

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