Florida Senate debating bill to curb opioid epidemic

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The shooting in Parkland tragically claimed 17 lives and responding to the issue has taken up most of Legislators focus for the past few weeks.

But lawmakers want to make sure Response to the opioid crisis, which kills 16 Floridians each day doesn't fall by the wayside.

Democratic senator Darryl Rouson from St. Petersburg said, “The same number of people that died in Parkland have died since Parkland and every day before that.”

The subject came up multiple times while Senators debated Legislation on school safety Monday.

Republican senator Denise Grimsley from Lake Placid stated, “Parents come in with their two and three-year-old children, lay them on the stretcher while they're seeking drugs.”

The effort this year seeks to tackle the supply of medical opioids. Proposed Legislation would limit doctors to prescribing just a three day supply in most cases, with the option of a seven day supply if it’s deemed necessary.

Some in the medical profession say the restrictions included in the bill are too tight.

Jeff Scott with the Florida Medical Association said, “Exceptions for cancer treatment, hospice care, surgery and trauma cases should be adopted.”

But other provisions in the bill like requiring patients to enter into the Prescription Drug Registry to prevent doctor shopping and requiring ongoing training for doctors to prescribe the medications have strong support.

Mark Fontaine, president of the Florida Behavioral Mental Health Association said, “Somebody from North Florida can't just go over to Georgia and get their medications. So we think that's beneficial.”

The Senate bill sets aside more than $53 million for opioid response, but until the budget finalized that number isn't guaranteed.