$53 million isn’t enough money for Florida to fight the growing opioid crisis, according to State Attorney General Pam Bondi, who also serves as a member on President Donald Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission.

Gov. Rick Scott is proposing $53 million in his recommendation for the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget to combat the national opioid crisis, but Bondi says while the money is a “great start,” the state still has a ways to go.

“In an $80 billion budget, that’s nothing,” Bondi said after the Florida Cabinet meeting on Thursday. “Nothing, given all of the lives that have been taken due to opioid abuse … We need much more money for treatment. And, $53 million this year would be a great start.”

Scott and state lawmakers have honed in on passing legislation to confront some of the issues aiding to the crisis during this year’s legislative session, proposing several measures to address the problem.

HB 21/SB8, sponsored by Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, aim to crack down on opioid abuse by limiting the supply of prescription medication, hoping the shortened window will lessen abuse and overdoses in Florida. 
 
If passed, patients would be restricted to a three-day supply for opioids, unless they met strict conditions allowing them to receive a seven-day supply of the medication. The limit would apply to patients suffering acute pain rather than chronic pain, which is governed under different standards. 
 
All healthcare professionals prescribing or dispensing medication would be required to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide program which monitors prescriptions for controlled substances. 
 
Opioid abuse has skyrocketed in recent years, overwhelming states like Florida, which declared a statewide public health emergency over the growing problem earlier this year.
 
According to CDC estimates, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled in that time.
 
Over 5,700 people died from opioid overdoses in Florida last year, an increase of 35 percent from 2015.
 
Ninety-one people die each day from overdosing on opioids like oxycodone and heroin. 
 
“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,” Scott said.
 
The Florida Senate has added Scott’s proposed funding to SB8 but it has yet to be added to the House bill.
 
 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


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