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Legislature Takes Action to Address Controlled Substances

Fraser Cobbe

Orange County Medical Society

Seminole County Medical Society

The Florida Legislature spent considerable time during the 2017 Legislative Session debating additional measures to address the distribution and monitoring of controlled substances. In the end they passed three bills that should strengthen the tools at the disposal of medical professionals and law enforcement in addressing the crisis that is impacting so many communities across the state. Below is a summary of those bills that passed.

HB 239 creates a central data base for opioid overdoses via the Emstar System. The legislation permits EMS to data share with law enforcement regional information to help target high drug areas of a community. The bill also requires any hospital with an emergency room to produce best practice policies to help in lowering the number of drug overdoses in the state.

HB 477 adds fentanyl and its derivatives to Florida's drug trafficking statute and gives law enforcement and state prosecutors the tools they need to investigate and prosecute drug traffickers selling the deadly substances.

The legislation also adds U-47700 to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances. In September last year, Attorney General Bondi signed an emergency rule outlawing the synthetic drug after it was identified in multiple deaths throughout the state. This emergency action temporarily outlawed the dangerous drug and the legislation passed this Session will ban the deadly substance permanently.

HB 557 shortens the timeframe in which a dispenser of a controlled substance (typically the pharmacy) must report dispensing from seven days to the end of the next business day. It also requires the dispenser to submit required reporting information via an electronic system approved by the Department of Health. In addition, the bill expands access to the PDMP database now to healthcare employees of the U.S. Veterans' Administration to assist with their patient's treatment.

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