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Democrats push bills that would put warning labels on prescription opioids

Calling it a “small step” to save Floridian’s lives, two Democrats are pushing for bills that would require new warning labels on prescription opioid containers, spelling out the danger of overdose and addiction.

State Sen. Annette Taddeo introduced her bill on Wednesday and a similar bill was filed by state Rep. Joseph Geller in the House early in November. Geller’s bill has been referred to three committees before it can head to the House floor.

Under both bills, pill bottles would have to carry a red sticker with a big, eligible written warning before a pharmacist or a practitioner can dispense Schedule II drugs, which have a high potential for abuse.

The Department of Health would also need to create a pamphlet that would be distributed for free to people who get their prescriptions.

Labels on pill bottles are not a new thing. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration began to require new warnings on containers last year to warn about the dangers of combining opioids.

The decision came after FDA officials said the number of patients who were prescribed both an opioid and a benzodiazepine sharply increased between 2002 and 2014, and the number of overdoses nearly tripled from 2004 to 2011.

“With such a large portion of our citizens exposed to these prescriptions, adding these common sense protections for those receiving opioids is a small step we can take to save the lives of our fellow Floridians,” said Geller, a Democrat from Aventura.

The effort by Taddeo and Geller, which targets legal prescriptions, comes months after the Legislature passed harsher penalties for fentanyl drug traffickers.

That includes murder charges in cases when the buyer dies of an overdose. That bill went into effect on Oct. 1, but experts say it remains too early to tell what the effect has been.

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Written By

Ana covers politics and policy for Florida Politics. Before joining Florida Politics, she was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.

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