Flanked by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and surrounded by members of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a new bill on Monday aimed at combatting opioid abuse throughout the state. 

  • HB 21 signed at Manatee County Sheriff's Office
  • Place 3-day limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain
  • Creates statewide database for opioid-prescribed patients
  • Goes into effect July 1

Gov. Scott signed the bill, HB 21, at a signing ceremony at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

“Last week, I signed the Securing Florida’s Future budget, which includes more than $65 million to support Florida’s fight against opioids, and I am proud to continue our fight against opioids by signing this major legislation today," Scott said. "This bill will help limit the chance of drug addiction, reduce the ability for dangerous drugs to spread in Florida’s communities and give vulnerable Floridians needed support."

Among the chief features of the bill is a new 3-day limit on prescribed opioids for acute pain, unless strict conditions are met for a seven-day supply. 

Corcoran touted this element of the bill as a measure that could potentially save thousands of lives.

"No longer will we be prescribed blanketly [sic] 30-day prescriptions -- now we'll say it's a 3-day prescription and then you'll have to come back," Corcoran said. "Is that an inconvenience? Yes. Is it an inconvenience worth saving 50,000 lives? Absolutely."

Local impact

For patients of pain treatment specialist Dr. Fabian Ramos, the new limits won't change much. Ramos told us only 18 percent of his patients are prescribed opioids.

However, he did point out that such a low number was not the case for every doctor's office.

"For us, it's not going to impose any change," Ramos explained. "The regular practitioners in the community it will -- it will limit the ability to prescribe for acute pain."

Ramos has specialized in pain treatment in Bradenton for 18 years. During that period, he said he's watched the rise of "pill mills" throughout the area.

"[Doctors] were taught in the 90s, which is [sic] 'you need to treat pain,' the pain of the patient, and you need to take the medication even before the pain came back," Ramos said. 

With the signing of the new legislation, patients who may try to look for a doctor to specifically prescribe opioids for them will find themselves out of options.

"For patients that are 'doctor-shopping,' the doors are going to be closing," Ramos said.

The new legislation goes into effect July 1.