Gov. Scott announces comprehensive plan to fight heroin epidemic

$50M investment to combat opioid abuse
Posted at 11:41 AM, Sep 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 23:25:57-04

Tuesday morning Governor Rick Scott announced a comprehensive plan to battle the state’s heroin epidemic. Scott is proposing major legislation and more than $50 million as part of his 2018-2019 recommended budget to combat opioid abuse in Florida. 

Proposed Legislation will include: 

  • Placing a three-day limit on prescribed opioids, unless strict conditions are met for a seven-day supply
  • Requiring all healthcare professionals that prescribe or dispense medication to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide database that monitors controlled substance prescriptions
  • Additional reforms to fight unlicensed pain management clinics, require continuing education courses on responsibly prescribing opioids, and create new opportunities for federal grant funding.

The proposed investment of more than $50 million will include funding for: 

  • Substance abuse treatment;
  • Counseling and recovery services; and 
  • The Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council

Governor Scott said, “We made a commitment here in Florida to do everything possible to support our communities and fight the national opioid epidemic, and while we have taken major steps to fight this crisis, more must be done. Today, I am proud to announce that I will propose major legislation during the upcoming legislative session and more than $50 million in my recommended budget to combat opioid abuse in our state. As I travel the state, I have met many families who are dealing with the heartache of drug addiction. Growing up, my own family dealt with the struggle of substance abuse and I know firsthand how this painful issue causes families to worry and pray for help and healing. As states across the country continue to fight this national epidemic, we must make sure Florida is doing our part to help vulnerable individuals and keep our families safe." 

The founder of Florida Pain Medicine, Dr. Maulik Bhalani said the governor's efforts are a great step forward. But, he said some of his patients, with chronic pain, are already concerned they might have to jump through hoops to continue receiving their medications.

"Our biggest concern always ends up being... are we going to have availability of these opiates available to our chronic pain patients," Bhalani said. "Really the truth is, only about two percent of patients are actually addicted to opiates.  However, the two percent are now creating an effect for the 98 percent."

State leaders are working to balance battling the crisis and to limit the impacts on patients with chronic pain.

“These proposals will make a major impact on limiting the chance of drug addiction, reducing the ability for dangerous drugs to spread in our communities, giving vulnerable Floridians the support they need, and ensuring our hardworking law enforcement officers have the resources to protect Floridians. I look forward to working with President Negron, Speaker Corcoran and the entire Legislature to pass this impactful legislation and major investment. I would also like to thank Attorney General Pam Bondi for her focus on this issue and her commitment to keeping our families safe. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local partners throughout this fight.” 

Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming lives in Florida, and we must do everything we can to stop drug abuse and save lives. I want to thank Governor Scott for proposing these legislative initiatives that will help stop addiction before it begins. It will take an all-hands-on-deck strategy, not only in Florida, but nationwide to address this crisis destroying American families.” 

Senate President Joe Negron said, “The Senate is committed to working with our partners across the state to combat opioid abuse, and I appreciate Governor Scott’s leadership on this serious issue. The Senate looks forward to working with Governor Scott and our colleagues in the Florida House as we continue to do all we can to protect Florida communities from this national epidemic.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran said, “The State of Florida is fully dedicated to protecting our families and communities from the national opioid epidemic. I look forward to continuing to work together with Governor Scott and my fellow Legislators to ensure our families, healthcare professionals and law enforcement officers have all the resources they need in this fight.”

Representative Jim Boyd, “I was proud to join Governor Scott today to announce these important proposals to combat opioid abuse across our state. We will continue to work to protect every family in Florida.”