To Representative Jim Boyd,
I am writing to voice my support for the recent HB-21 proposal bill that you have submitted to the Florida House of Representatives. The issue of addiction to opioids and prescription medications has been a growing concern in the state. Recently published statistics indicate that 9,784 deaths in 2015 were related to drug usage. Approximately 5,364 deaths, individuals were found with prescription drugs in their system, according to toxicology reports. In at least 2,530 cases, opioids were a definite cause of death with a possibility of interaction with alcohol or illicit drugs. It represents a 22.7% annual increase. Also, heroin usage increased by 74.3%, with a 79.7% surge in deaths (Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 2015).
These statistics are overwhelming and constitute a public health crisis. Some areas have been especially affected, such as Palm Beach County, where more than 900 lives were lost at Delray Beach. The exponentially increasing number of overdoses and deaths from opioids and prescription medications is creating pressure on law enforcement and health services that are not prepared or funded enough to respond effectively.
Palm Beach County faced about 5,000 overdose emergencies last year. Commonly addicts overdose on heroin which is laced with fentanyl or carfentanil. The synthetic opioids are potent and result in rapid death since first responders are unable to arrive on time or use traditional methods of overdose resuscitation. As Florida continues to struggle with the epidemic, which is affecting its families, Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency aimed at addressing the opioid crisis (Lakeview Health, 2017). I think your bill is well-received amongst the public, legislators, and health professionals alike.
Your background as a native Floridian and an experienced politician in local legislation gives you a unique first-hand perspective on how the epidemic has worsened over time. Furthermore, your position as the chairman of the House Commerce Committee gives you the attention and support of the governor and fellow legislators to pass this bill. It is evident that the bill was carefully crafted under the governor’s supervision and in cooperation with the state surgeon general and other health professionals.
However, there are various perspectives on this legislation. The bill attempts to reduce the abuse of prescription medication through limits on prescription amounts and to establish methods of patient verification.
There are compelling arguments from doctors and nurse practitioners that the limits will result in additional bureaucracy that will take away from patient interaction. The database system is ineffective, and the supposed industry standards create more legal issues for medical professionals without resolving the actual opioid problem (Health News Florida, 2017). Nevertheless, it is vital that Florida legislators and relevant agencies maintain the stance of open dialogue that can gauge the opinions of various professionals dealing with the epidemic first hand.
I hold the opinion that there should be some instilled limits and regulations on prescription medication. Even though there is an opinion that legal limits do not address the problem as most overdoses occur due to synthetic opioids and heroin, prescription medication does play a role in this. For most people, obtaining prescription medication is easier than illicit drugs, and there is no substantial risk of being involved in criminal behavior.
The number of prescription overdoses has skyrocketed in the last decades, and there is an uninformed assumption that prescription medication is safer for health than illicit drugs. Research on the subject implies that heroin use can easily stem from prescription medication abuse. Approximately half of the respondents using heroin have indicated abusing prescription opioids at first, and many begin using heroin as medication prices rise and restrictions are implemented (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014). I hope in the debate on the new legislation, and you can find a method to implement regulations while providing help for the population struggling with the issue. Thank you.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement. (2016). 2015 medical examiners commission drug report. Web.
Health News Florida. (2017). Sweeping measure addresses prescription pills. Web.
Lakeview Health. (2017). First responders in South Florida overwhelmed by opioid epidemic. Web.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). How is heroin linked to prescription drug abuse? Web.