In addition to gun legislation, one of Governor Rick Scott’s main priorities was tackling Florida's opioid crisis, which kills 6,000 people a year, or 16 Floridians per day.
The governor is expected to sign a bill based on the ideas he laid out for fighting the crisis, which includes $53 million for treatment and drugs that will help people recover from addiction. It will also put a limit on opioid prescriptions and require new training for doctors who prescribe those opioids.
Here’s how it works out:
Patients with acute pain would be limited to a three-day supply of prescription opioids like Oxycontin and Fentanyl, or a seven-day supply if a doctor deems it “medically necessary.”
The limits would not apply to patients with pain related to cancer, terminal illness, trauma, or chronic pain.
Chronic pain sufferers like Darryl Paulson believe it will do more harm than good. “I’ve been dealing with pain since I was 12-years-old,” he said.
Paulson says the pain he experiences impacts every aspect of his life, including time with family and even vacations.
“I think I’ve had seven different surgeries altogether, and I’m not even counting all the procedures I’ve had. I’ve also had total knee replacement surgery.”
Because of his chronic pain, Paulson is exempt from new restrictions lawmakers passed putting a three to a seven-day limit on opioids, but he says it will create a bigger burden for people who desperately need it.
“These people are getting the medicines because they need it, not because they are trying to abuse it. I think they are attacking a problem that simply doesn’t exist and partly, it’s for political reasons. They can all go back and tell their constituents we cracked down on drug abusers,” Paulson said.
He explains a restriction on pain meds will create an incredible burden for senior citizens.
“We have more people over 65 than any other state. Many of these people have pain, that’s maybe not chronic, but it’s severe,” Paulson said. “Instead of going to a pain specialist once a month, now you have to go anywhere from four to 10 times. Doctors aren’t going to be able to do examinations because they’re not going to have time to do them,” He said.
Paulson talks about the financial burden it also creates.
“The drugs are going to cost more if it's dosed out in smaller portions, and not only that, when they see their pain specialists they’re going to have a co-pay,” Paulson said.
Overall, Paulson says the new restrictions impact quality of life.
“If you have grandkids in another state, forget about visiting them. If you have to fly to see them, you won’t have time if you only have a three-day script. So you’re going to have to tell your grandkids, come visit me because I can’t visit you.”
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