PURPOSE: Florida has been at the center of the nation's ongoing prescription opioid epidemic, with largely unregulated pain clinics and lax prescribing oversight cited as significant contributors to the opioid problem in the state.
METHODS: In an effort to mitigate prescription opioid abuse and diversion in Florida, legislative interventions were implemented during 2010 and 2011, which included two primary elements: (i) comprehensive legislation to better regulate the operation of pain clinics; and (ii) a statewide prescription drug monitoring program to promote safer prescribing practices. Using systematic longitudinal data collected on a quarterly basis from law enforcement agencies across Florida, this report examined changes in prescription opioid diversion rates following implementation of these regulatory initiatives. Quarterly diversion rates for buprenorphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and tramadol were calculated, and subsequently, hierarchical linear models were fit to test for differences in diversion rates over the 15 quarter period of interest.
RESULTS: Significant declines in diversion rates were observed for oxycodone, methadone, and morphine; hydrocodone displayed a marginally significant decline.
CONCLUSIONS: This study documented reductions in statewide opioid diversion rates following implementation of Florida's pain clinic and prescription drug monitoring program legislative interventions. Although these initial findings appear promising, continued surveillance of diversion is clearly warranted.