What Does Florida’s New Opioid Legislation Mean for Your Practice?

What Does Florida’s New Opioid Legislation Mean for Your Practice?

Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CHC, CPC, CPCO

What Does Florida’s New Opioid Legislation Mean for Your Practice?

Responding to the spike in opioid-related overdoses and fatalities, the Florida Legislature has passed a bill (HB 21) that institutes limits on the prescribing of opioids, as well as increases funding for treatment.


The new legislation mandates that most initial prescriptions would have a limit of three days for Schedule II painkillers such as Oxycontin and Fentanyl. However, physicians would be permitted to prescribe up to seven days for acute pain exceptions. Under the exception, the prescriber must “adequately document in the patient’s medical records the acute medical condition and lack of alternative treatment options that justify deviation from the 3 day supply limit.”

There are no medication limits for trauma cases, chronic pain, cancer and palliative care.

Physicians will be required to take a two-hour, board approved continuing medical education course on prescribing controlled substances. They, or staff members, also would be required to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing these drugs.

While some states require physicians to check with a prescription monitoring database before prescribing a controlled substance, until now Florida had no such requirement. As a result, only about a quarter of all Florida physicians use it. The bill however, makes it mandatory for a “prescriber or dispenser” to check the data base (known as E-FORCSE) and review a patient’s prescription history before prescribing a controlled substance.

In addition, for each controlled substance dispensed, the information must be reported no later than the close of the next business day after the day the controlled substance is dispensed, unless an extension or exemption is approved. Those who fail to do so can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.

The bill earmarks nearly $1 million for improvements to the database so that it can interface with physicians’ offices and electronic health records used by doctors.

The bill also sets aside another $52.5 million in state and federal grant funding for treatment programs.

There also are requirements for pharmacists who are dispensing opioids. For example, if the pharmacists does not know the person filling the prescription, he or she must obtain a photo ID.

Once signed by the governor, the bill will take effect July 1.

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