3 Things You Need To Know About Florida's New Opiod Painkiller Laws
Do you live in Florida and need an opioid (also known as narcotic) painkiller? You might want to familiarize yourself with new laws that have recently been passed to regulate these drugs more heavily there, especially if you're a new resident. Florida has been known as a haven for getting abundant painkiller prescriptions for at least a decade. Pain clinics, often referred to as "pill mills" popped up all over the state, with doctors at the ready to write a prescription for a narcotic painkiller for virtually anyone and for any reason. Some doctors at these clinics didn't examine patients at all. They just wrote prescriptions. This led to a lot of people with opioid painkiller addictions in Florida.
The state legislature passed new laws from 2011 through 2014 to deal with this problem. The laws deal with all drugs in the opioid class. Here's what you need to know so you don't run into any trouble when getting your prescription filled.
1. Prescriptions for Opioid Painkillers Must Be Physical and Filled By a Pharmacy
This may seem like a given, but it wasn't always that way in Florida. Until 2011, pain medicine specialists could simply hand out opioid painkillers at their office. This meant there was no way for state drug enforcement authorities to monitor which doctors were handing out pills, how many they were distributing, and who was getting them.
The new law requires any doctor prescribing a opioid painkiller to write out a physical prescription for it. The patient must then take that prescription to a pharmacy to get it filled.
2. Narcotic Painkillers May Only Be Prescribed for 30 Days at a Time
One of the newest laws limits prescriptions for any drug containing an opioid ingredient in it to 30 days. This includes even things like cough syrup with codeine. According to FloridasPharmacy.gov, no refills are permitted on these prescriptions. The prescriptions may not be called in to a pharmacy, either.
This means a patient who needs an opioid painkiller for a legitimate reason must go back to the doctor every 30 days to obtain a physical prescription and then bring that prescription to a pharmacy to fill it in person. This can be inconvenient for people who are in pain.
However, no pharmacy will fill a narcotic prescription for you any other way, since other pharmacies have already been fined or have had their narcotic licenses revoked for not following this law.
3. You May Only Fill Your Narcotic Prescription at One Pharmacy
Up until recently, it was easy to get multiple prescriptions for narcotics from different doctors in Florida. You could then take the prescriptions to different pharmacies to get them all filled. A new law limits you to one pharmacy for filling your narcotic prescriptions.
This allows the pharmacy to monitor what you are getting filled and to make sure you aren't "doctor shopping" by going to different physicians for the same drug. If you are caught filling more than one narcotic prescription at different pharmacies, you can face some tough criminal penalties.
Improvements in the state's drug monitoring database is making it harder to get away with this. However, some people still fall under the radar. Don't be one of them.
It is a lot more difficult now to get opioid painkiller prescriptions filled in Florida. Pharmacies are wary of anyone with a prescription, and some err on the side of caution and won't fill a prescription for an opioid painkiller at all. This has led to a backlash against the strict laws by some of the very doctors who pushed for them in the first place.
However, if you and your doctor both follow the rules, you will probably be able to get your prescription filled. Just do it the right way, or you may find yourself having to hire a drug defense attorney for trying to fill a legitimate prescription. Plenty of doctors, pharmacists, and regular patients like you have already had to get attorneys for opioid painkiller prescription issues.
If you run into trouble, don't worry. Your drug defense attorney will be able to help you if you really weren't knowingly doing anything wrong. As long as the laws remain so strict, the best policy in Florida is to only get opioid painkiller prescriptions if nothing else will do.