While citizens in the United States round the first week of quarantine from the novel coronavirus, the Surgeon General of Florida, Scott Rivkees, has waived in-person consultation requirements for returning patients throughout the state. Approval for cannabis and narcotic telemedicine will be in effect for at least the next 30 days.
“I find that strict compliance with the provisions of certain regulatory statutes and rules prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business by the Florida Department of Health will prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency caused by COVID-19,” Rivkees said in an emergency order statement.
“For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, health care professionals not licensed in this state may provide health care services to a patient licensed in this state using telehealth, notwithstanding the requirements of section 456.47(4)(a) through (c), (h), and (i), Florida Statutes, for a period not to exceed 30 days unless extended by order of the State Surgeon General,” the statement continued.
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Under the Surgeon General’s order, qualified physicians under section 381.986, Florida Statutes, may only issue physician certification for qualified patients with existing certification. Physicians won’t be required to conduct physical examinations while in-person with the patient.
“These qualified physicians may only substitute telehealth services for the physical examination while physically present in the same room as the patient. Telehealth shall have the same meaning as section 456.47(1)(a).”
In addition to medical cannabis, narcotics for telemedicine have been approved for “physicians, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses licensed in Florida that have designated themselves as a controlled substance prescribing practitioner pursuant to section 456.44.”
Qualified physicians treating patients in Florida “may issue a renewal prescription for a controlled substance listed as Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV under chapter 893 only for an existing patient for the purpose of treating chronic nonmalignant pain without the need to conduct a physical examination of the patient.”
Coronavirus Florida: Lake Worth Beach city commission meeting turns ugly pic.twitter.com/bEzaULPOy3— JO$H JONE$ (@jappoffjones) March 21, 2020
While the uncertainty regarding the duration of quarantine measures remains, panic-buying and stockpiling has been seen in stores and pharmacies across the nation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted that the organization is aware of the consumer trend and is taking action to ensure a continued healthy supply chain.
In a publicly released statement, the FDA said it “continues to play a critical role in the multifaceted all-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes, among other things, facilitating medical countermeasures to treat and prevent the disease, and surveilling the medical product and food supply chains for potential shortages or disruptions and helping to mitigate such impacts, as necessary.”
“We will engage with domestic manufacturers to ramp up production of this product to mitigate any potential supply chain pressures,” the statement continued. “The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.”