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Senators back opioid bill amid continued talks

A bill aimed at helping stem the opioid epidemic was approved Thursday by a final Senate committee, as talks involving key lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott’s office continue on reaching a final version.

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously approved the bill (SB 8), which backers hope would help prevent people from getting addicted to prescription painkillers.

The bill, sponsored by Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican, includes a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain, though doctors could write seven-day prescriptions if they find it “medically necessary.”

The Florida Medical Association, which represents physicians, is seeking changes to the prescription limits. Jeff Scott, the group’s general counsel, urged lawmakers to allow exceptions in situations such as when patients undergo major surgery or are in cancer or hospice care.

Benacquisto said the Senate has been in “very vigorous discussions” with the association to address such issues and is working with the House and the governor’s office.

It was not immediately clear when the bill might go to the Senate floor.

A House version (HB 21), filed by Rep. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican, has unanimously cleared two panels and awaits action by the House Health & Human Services Committee.

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