Florida looking to limit supply of opioids

Lawmakers to add flurry of new rules in 2018
Posted at 2:27 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-02 18:26:38-05

Prescription drug deaths are up nearly 6 percent in Tampa, 16.5 percent in Pinellas and Pasco counties and 35 percent statewide.

"I died twice — overdosed — my wife found me in the bathroom blue," says a recovering addict who spoke to ABC Action News on the condition that his named not be used.

He told our cameras that Tampa doctors are doling out more pain medication than patients can handle.

"These doctors are writing these prescriptions and not even telling you the symptoms you can have, the withdrawals from not taking it,"  he says.

Now in this new year there is a new plan of attack against Florida's opioid epidemic.

On January 1st, Florida Blue — the state's largest insurer — officially stopped covering the powerful and addictive pain medication: Oxycontin.

Instead Florida Blue will cover "Xtampza ER," an extended release medication, which the insurance company claims is harder to abuse because the pills can't be crushed and snorted.

RELATED: FloridaBlue to stop OxyContin coverage to help fight opioid abuse

And lawmakers are set to add a flurry of new regulations to how pain meds are prescribed in Florida, when the legislative session begins in one week.

Two bills limiting the supply of opioids to the public will be debated.

The senate version calls for limiting prescriptions to a 7-day supply.

Also, Governor Scott has promised to introduce his own legislation in the weeks ahead, calling for a three-day limit on prescribed opioids along with 50-million dollars in this year's budget to combat abuse.

But Robin Piper with Turning Point of Tampa says laws alone, won't fix the real problem.

"The substance they are using isn’t really the issue. It’s not the cocaine, the prescription pills, or the opiates or the heroin, that’s the problem it’s addiction that’s the problem," she says.

And the proof of that is in the latest numbers. Addicts are going back to the the drug of the 80's. Cocaine is back in a big way in Tampa Bay.

Overdose deaths are up 55 percent in Pinellas county, 60 percent in Polk and 28 percent in Hillsborough.