Florida Legislative Update.

New Laws Took Effect in the Sunshine State on July 1, 2018.

On July 1, 2018 the Controlled Substance Bill became effective in the state of Florida. “There is nothing about this law that means legitimate patients cannot get legitimate medicine for legitimate reasons,” Dr. John Ellington, who is in charge of risk management at the 200-physician Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Florida is quoted as saying.

The legislation is in response to an increasing number of opioid related deaths in the state. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports: In 2016, there were 2,798 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Florida—a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. In the past several years, Florida has seen a dramatic increase in the number of deaths, particularly among those related to synthetic opioids. In 2016, there were 1,566 synthetic opioid-related deaths compared to 200 in 2013.






A detailed resource called Florida Take Control is available which provides information pertaining to CS/CS/HB 21, the Controlled Substances Bill, and the changes impacting prescribers and dispensers, in the state of Florida.

HB 21 can be found in it’s entirety here.

The Florida Senate summary states:

CS/CS/HB 21: Controlled Substances

GENERAL BILL by Health and Human Services Committee ; Health Quality Subcommittee ; Boyd ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Ahern ; Avila ; Fant ; Hager ; McClain ; Miller, M. ; Moraitis ; Perez ; Pigman ; Rommel ; White

Controlled Substances; Requiring certain boards to require certain registered practitioners to complete a specified board-approved continuing education course to obtain authorization to prescribe controlled substances as part of biennial license renewal and before a specified date; requiring the applicable boards to adopt rules establishing certain guidelines for prescribing controlled substances for acute pain; providing requirements for pharmacists for the dispensing of controlled substances to persons not known to them; authorizing a pharmacist to dispense controlled substances upon receipt of an electronic prescription if certain conditions are met, etc.

So….what does that mean….

The Florida Board of Pharmacy provides the following summary:

HB 21 creates section 456.0301, Florida Statutes, requiring:

  • Practitioners to complete a specified board-approved continuing education course to prescribe controlled substances.

It is important to note that while the law went into effect July 1, 2018 but physicians are not mandated to complete the newly required course until Jan. 31, 2019.

  • The bill defines “acute pain” and establishes prescribing guidelines and grounds for disciplinary action if not followed.


  • It limits opioid prescriptions for the treatment of acute pain to a specified period under certain circumstances and requires health care practitioners to check the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) database prior to prescribing or dispensing a controlled substance.


  • Additionally, the bill requires pain management clinics with an exemption from registration under section 458.3265 or 459.0137, Florida Statutes, to register their exemption with the Department of Health with no fee, and specifies a new certificate is required if a change of address occurs.

Additional Resources:

Florida Medical Association What You Need to Know

The Florida Academy of Pain Medicine State Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

The Florida Department of Health Legislative Update

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