Florida Doctors and Pharmacists Beware: Gov. Scott Declares State of Emergency for Opioid Abuse Crisis

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On May 3, 2017, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency to combat Florida’s opioid-addiction epidemic. According to the governor, the number of overdose deaths has reached epidemic proportions. This declaration will allow nearly $30 million in federal funding to be spent for treatment and prevention services.

Given past state actions taken to attempt to eliminate prescription pain medication abuse, physicians writing such prescriptions and pharmacies filling such prescriptions should beware. Get prepared, not only through having a good compliance program, but by contacting and having a good attorney on retainer in the event of a subpoena, raid, search warrant or arrest warrant. Additionally, always talk to your lawyer before speaking with any investigator or special agent about anything.

The Emergency Declaration.

An emergency declaration gives Governor Scott the power to spend immediately without the Legislature’s approval. Therefore, public health officials can move quickly to respond to a crisis. Additionally, the emergency declaration will free up nearly $30 million in federal funds for prevention, treatment and recovery services. These services include workshops focused on addressing the major opioid abuse problem in Florida’s areas hit hardest with this crisis.

The Opioid Epidemic.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 nearly 3,900 people died across the state of Florida as a direct result of opioid abuse. Governor Scott’s emergency declaration has strengthened the Florida Legislature’s effort this year to address the opioid abuse crisis in several additional proposals.

Among the additional measures state legislators are considering one that rewrites Florida’s drug trafficking statute. The new measure would create tougher penalties for dealers and users, specifically those caught with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that can be 100 times more potent than morphine.

For more information and statistics on the opioid epidemic in Florida, click here.

To read one of my prior blogs for physicians prescribing pain medication, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Opioid Abuse Concerns.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in opioid abuse investigations, drug diversion, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Auslen, Michael. “Gov. Scott declares public health emergency over opioid crisis.” Miami Herald. (May 4, 2017).

Ceballos, Ana. “Florida Bolsters Response to Opioid-Addiction Crisis.” Associated Press. (May 4, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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