On March 20, 2018, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law the legislation that is now Florida Statute 456.0301. This new law affects all prescribing practitioners other than APRNs and PAs, who have their own requirements for education, F.S. 464.013(3)(b) and F.S. 458.347(4)(e)3, respectively.
The new law requires that if you are a prescriber who is registered with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and authorized to prescribe controlled substances pursuant to 21 U.S.C. s. 822, you must complete a two-hour, board-approved, continuing education course on prescribing controlled substances as part of the biennial license renewal. You will be asked to provide information regarding your DEA registration at the time you apply for renewal.
The course must include information on the current standards for prescribing controlled substances, particularly opiates; alternatives to these standards; nonpharmacological therapies; prescribing emergency opioid antagonists; and the risks of opioid addiction following all stages of treatment in the management of acute pain. The course may be offered in a distance learning format and must be included within the number of continuing education hours required by law.
The course must be completed by January 31, 2019, and all subsequent renewals.
While this may seem like a good concept at first brush, a closer look at the language in the legislation shows additional restrictions, reading, “complete a board-approved 2-hour continuing education course on prescribing controlled substances offered by a statewide professional association of physicians in this state that is accredited to provide educational activities designated for the American Medical Association Physician’s Recognition Award Category 1 Credit or the American Osteopathic Category 1-A continuing medical education credit as part of biennial license renewal.”
Such additional restrictions seem to grant a monopoly status to Florida statewide associations with accreditation. This would mean all of the licensed Florida physicians and other prescribers will only be able to take Florida Medical Association or other association courses, which will create a windfall in fees to the Association while leaving all other accredited CME providers out in the cold including many health systems.
After this announcement came out, a national addiction organization reached out to us and let us know that while they had previously put on CME courses in Florida, they would not be doing it this year because the Florida legislature determined that the organization was not “qualified” enough to provide such CME in the state. Unfortunately, it seems that this law has unintended consequences for providers and prescribers in the state of Florida and perhaps next Session, the legislature will reconsider this issue to allow other qualified CME providers put on helpful CME that can better the lives of patients and their caretakers.
While we do believe in the importance of education for prescribers, especially when it comes to opioids, we also believe in the free market. This restrictive clause should be a concern to everyone as it severely restricts what our prescribers are learning.