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On the heels of a new study showing opioid-related deaths are expected to worsen by 2025, two Florida legislators are proposing a way for patients to reject the prescription drug while at a hospital or doctor’s office. 

Senator Keith Perry (Republican-Gainesville and Representative Scott Plakon (Republican-Longwood) filed legislation giving Floridians the right to sign an advanced directive allowing them to decline the use of a opioid drug during medical treatment. 

“Far too many Floridians are struggling with addiction, and we must continue to look for ways to address the problem. Over the past few years, we have passed several measures that have reduced the amount of opioids that can be prescribed, we have better tracking measures in place through our Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and we have cracked down on pill-mills,” said Sen. Perry. “This measure would provide patients and providers with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their treatment options.”

The federal government estimates that 116 people a day die from an opioid overdose. A new study conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital says the crisis will only worsen as people move from prescription opioids to illegal versions like heroin and fentanyl.   

Research shows that many suffering from opioid dependence were first exposed through a legitimate prescription from a health provider who was treating them for pain, an injury, surgery or a dental procedure. 

“It is our hope that this legislation makes a difference in the lives of Floridians and the families who have loved ones struggling with a substance use disorder,” said Rep. Plakon. “There are alternatives to opioids and patients should have the right to make their own decisions about the type of pain treatment they receive based on their circumstances.”

The bill requires the Florida Department of Health to develop the new form which will be known as the voluntary non-opioid directive form. Patients will also be allowed to ask their health providers for a substitute pain treatment medication that is a non-opioid. 

David Bishop is a native Floridian, husband and father. During his 30 year career, David has been a journalist, political operative and communications consultant.