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From suing drug manufacturers to new laws – things Florida has been trying to tame opioid menace

Earlier in May 2018, Florida sued the Big Pharma for fueling the opioid epidemic in the state. According to state’s Attorney General Pam Bondi, the drug menace has been causing 15 deaths a day. The 15-deaths-a-day figure of the day thus becomes a major contributor to the overall national mortality caused by the opioid crisis, which as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stands at 115 deaths per day.

The move comes close on the heels of similar lawsuits filed by Delray Beach, Broward County and Palm Beach County, which have been worst affected by the heroin and opioid epidemic. Through the legal action, the state intends to seek damages for the exorbitant drug treatment expenses, foster care services, law enforcement and various other expenses caused by the drug menace.

New legislation to curb drug menace

These lawsuits are among the various measures taken by the state. Earlier in March 2018, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 21 into law to help combat the opioid crisis. The legislation added $53 million to the state’s budget to alleviate the opioid crisis. The law would “help limit the chance of drug addiction, reduce the ability for dangerous drugs to spread in Florida’s communities and give vulnerable Floridians needed support.”

Earlier, in May 2017, Gov. Scott had passed an executive order declaring a public health emergency in the Sunshine State. Subsequently, the mandate was modified to issue a standing order to use naloxone for opioid overdoses by emergency responders. In October 2017, a national public health emergency was declared by President Donald Trump on the account of the opioid crisis.

Florida’s comprehensive approach against opioid misuse

HB 21 adopted a comprehensive approach to deal with the escalating issue of opioid overdoses and related deaths. The legislation increased the funding allocated to the budget for treatment of opioid addiction and casualties, availability of naloxone, and stricter accountability and law enforcement mechanisms. After the infusion of the additional fund of $53 million, the new budgetary provision is around $65 million.

The new law also entailed the use of the Florida Drug Monitoring Program by physicians and pharmacists before prescribing or supplying opioids to anyone. The statewide database would contain the details of the opioids authorized to a particular patient by a physician or a medical practitioner. In instances where unnecessary medication had been prescribed, strict penalties would be imposed.

Additionally, the legislation allows limiting opioid prescriptions. According to HB 21, persons suffering from acute or short-term pain would be prescribed opioids only if necessary and that too with a three-day limit, though in exceptional cases, a seven-day opioid prescription was allowed. Anyone who prescribed opioids for a week would have to document the justification for the deviation from the set standard of three days recording the medical condition and the lack of alternative treatment options.

Recovery from opioid addiction is possible

Opioid pain relievers or prescription opioids are the most exploited form of controlled drugs. Highly addictive, these drugs are easily available. Individuals using such drugs gradually become dependent on them developing an addiction. When misused or abused, opioids are known to create permanent changes in the body, which can lead to severe consequences, and in certain cases, even death. Therefore, timely identification of an opioid addiction is important for proper treatment and recovery.

If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to any drug, it is important to seek help. The Florida Drug Addiction Helpline can help in accessing the finest drug rehabs in Florida that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-982-2401 or chat online with our representative to know more about the finest drug rehab center in Florida.

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