Bill would limit opioid prescriptions to 7 days

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There could soon be a new limit on opioid pain medication prescriptions.

The limit would apply to the number of pills prescribed to a patient over a certain number of days.

Instead of a 30-day supply, patients would have to see a doctor and obtain a new prescription every seven days.

It's one measure local lawmakers hope will help with the opioid addiction epidemic.

Many say it’s a step in the right direction, but some are voicing their concerns over the bill House Bill 21.

Jessica Zeilman has seen light after a deep darkness.

"Everything just kind of fell apart," she said. 

Ten years ago a drunk driver hit her head on. She was lucky to be alive but in severe pain. She was prescribed an opioid to help her deal with the pain from her injuries, but she became addicted to the medications.

"It holds you. It's a stronghold on your life and you're not seeking anything else except pain medicine," she said.

When prescription pills weren't enough, Jessica switched to heroin and cocaine. 

"It just really brought me to a really dark place where I lost my family, my friends, and I was just seeking death," said Jessica. 

She found help through Prodigal Daughters in Sarasota. With a support group and a deep faith, he was able to kick her addiction.

So many others are not as fortunate.

Representative Jim Boyd of Bradenton has seen the devastation of heroin and fentanyl overdoses.  Manatee County was once the hotbed of deaths, with more than 300 since 2015.

Last year, Rep. Boyd helped pass House Bill 477, which allows law enforcement to charge fentanyl dealers with murder for any deadly overdoses linked back to their products. It also imposed stricter penalties on dealers and traffickers.

Boyd believes the regulations in House Bill 21 offer further aid to doctors and law enforcement officers eager to limit opioid addictions and overdoses.

"It's a multifaceted problem so it's a multifaceted approach," he said.

HB 21 would place tight limits on opioid prescriptions. It would limit prescriptions to a 7-day supply.

Some doctors and patients with chronic pain are up in arms over the bill. Rep. Boyd said they should not be concerned.

"We are not trying to get between doctors and their patients," Rep. Boyd said. "If a patient has need of additional medication there is certainly the ability for them to go back and visit with their doctor and have another conversation about their pain."

Pain Management Specialist Dr. Eugene Pereira said the measures in the bill are positive.

"A proportion of my day is to try and clean up the messes that other people have caused by putting these patients, with good intentions, on opioids because they didn't know better," he said.

Doctor Pereira understands why people think the limit maybe an overstep.

"But it is in the right direction. Because people are doing something," he said.