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.