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For most of her childhood, growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly Zimmerman felt alone and anxious.

She despaired when her mother was depressed or working late shifts; when her parents fought nonstop; when her friends wanted to come over, and she felt too ashamed to let them see her home's buckling floor, the lack of running water.

Kelly tried to shut out those feelings, and when she was 18, a boyfriend offered her an opioid painkiller — Percocet.

Her anxiety dissolved, at least for a little while.

Health Care Boards To Huddle About Drug Rules

Jun 12, 2018

Florida lawmakers this year passed a bill that limits prescribing of controlled substances for patients suffering from acute pain and mandates new continuing education requirements for health-care professionals as ways to combat the state’s growing opioid problem. 

An attorney for the company that makes the prescription opioid painkiller OxyContin says there is an opioid crisis.

People with addiction to opioids and their support network can get instant, anonymous help in seeking treatment. 

Florida sues the nation’s biggest drug makers, political battles heat up and Hillsborough attracts a Fortune 500 company headquarters.

Those are just some of the latest state news stories we’ll discuss with reporters on this month’s edition of our Florida Matters news roundtable.


Florida is suing drug companies that have steered more than $1 million to politicians over the last 20 years.

Judge Hammers State On Methadone Clinic Applications

Apr 27, 2018

Pointing to an arbitrary process that “ignores substance in favor of blind luck,” an administrative law judge Thursday rejected a state emergency rule drawn up to help license more methadone-treatment centers across Florida.

Pain management physicians had a role in creating the opioid crisis and some of those doctors are now working to solve the problem.

Florida will get another $27 million dollars this year from the federal government to combat the opioid crisis.

Miami Sues Drug Makers Over Opioid Epidemic

Apr 18, 2018

In 2016, the city of Miami saw 641 opioid-related overdoses, a 20 percent increase from the year before. Now, attorneys for the city have filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County circuit court alleging that drug manufacturers violated Florida law by aggressively and deceptively marketing opioids as safe. 

From opioid prescription limits to an agreement on the regulation of trauma centers, it was a busy year for health care issues in the Florida Legislature.

Medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two studies published Monday.

The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about some of the key takeaways from the 2018 legislative session.

We break down parts of the state budget as well as measures on school safety, gun control and opioid prescriptions. We also debate the session's "winners and losers."


Sessions Says No More ‘Business As Usual’ In Opioid Fight

Mar 23, 2018

Two days after instructing federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty in drug-related cases, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Tallahassee on Thursday to promote President Donald Trump’s plan to combat the deadly opioid epidemic.

Lawmakers Seek More Money For Opioid Epidemic

Feb 23, 2018

Two Democratic senators are pushing to increase by $25 million the amount of funding the Senate has committed to addressing the state’s opioid problems in the upcoming year. 

Foster Homes Overwhelmed By Opioid Epidemic

Feb 16, 2018

Florida foster care providers are struggling to keep up with the number of children entering the system as a result of opioid-related deaths. 

After being delayed twice a proposal restricting physician prescribing powers for opioids is once again moving in the senate. It’s part of a wide-ranging proposal to address overdose deaths, which have jumped in Florida and across the nation in recent years.

CHRISTINE CABALO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The city of Sarasota is planning to file a lawsuit against a number of major pharmaceutical companies to recover damages from the opioid crisis. City Commissioners have voted to retain two attorneys to file the lawsuit. 

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is continuing to prepare for a potential lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Tampa Wednesday talking about efforts to combat the nation's opioid crisis.

The state’s lawmakers are hard at work in Tallahassee as the 2018 legislative session continues. This week on the latest edition of our monthly Florida Matters news roundtable series we’re talking about some of their priorities and how they could affect residents.


Doctors Wary Of Painkiller Prescription Limits

Jan 23, 2018

Surgeons complain it’s too restrictive for patients who undergo major heart surgery or hip replacement. Emergency room doctors gripe they don’t have the time or resources to comply. And pharmacists say it needs to be tweaked.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Thursday said Florida could soon pursue legal action against manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

Attorney General Pam Bondi wants new laws to protect people who report sexual misconduct; Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam wants to make sure the state is prepared for a higher-than-normal risk for wildfires; and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants to expand worker compensation benefits for first responders so that it includes coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Doctors at some of the largest U.S. hospital chains admit they went overboard with opioids to make people as pain-free as possible, and now they shoulder part of the blame for the nation’s opioid crisis. To be part of the cure, they’ve begun to issue an uncomfortable warning to patients: You’re going to feel some pain.

As the opioid epidemic swells the tide of abused and neglected children coming into the state foster-care system, a Florida judge is trying to find them a "forever" home, in time for the holidays.

Two of Florida’s largest counties, Palm Beach and Broward, have started a process that could take opioid drug makers to court for their roles in the opioid crisis. 

If you run a business in Florida, you have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace. But does that apply to drugs prescribed by a doctor — like medical marijuana and opioid painkillers?

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory this week regarding the use of Kratom - an herb that some people use to treat pain, stress, anxiety, and even opioid withdrawal.

Jacksonville has the highest rate of fentanyl-related deaths in the state, according to an annual Florida Department of Law Enforcement report.

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