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Florida ODs get oral prescribing privileges

Gov. Rick Scott has granted optometrists in Florida oral drug prescriptive authority with the April 22 signing of HB 239/SB 278.

According to Florida Optometric Association legislative chair Kenneth W. Lawson, OD, in a letter to members, the oral medications include specific antibiotics, antivirals, analgesics and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and the use of injection for treating anaphylaxis is also now permitted. Optometrists in the state must first pass a 20-hour online course and test approved by the Florida Board of Optometry, he said.

Controlled substances have also been added.

“Certified optometrists are for the first time permitted to administer and prescribe those controlled substances (oral analgesics) that have been placed on the legislated formulary,” Lawson said in the letter.

The legislation also grants the optometry board the power to determine the formulary of topical pharmaceutical agents optometrists in the state can prescribe.

“The potential scope of the formulary has been clarified to include topical agents that are ‘appropriate to treat or diagnose ocular diseases and disorders,’” Lawson stated. “This change will greatly expedite our ability to timely add any new topically applied ocular medications approved by our board to our list of usable drugs.”

The law also authorizes Florida optometrists to operate a clinical laboratory, codifies their right to provide comanagement of postoperative care and defines “surgery.”

Lawson said the following procedures are recognized as being within the scope of optometric care: eyelash epilation, nasolacrimal duct probing in adults, punctal occlusion, epithelial scraping for removal of damaged tissue or foreign bodies, corneal and conjunctival scraping for culturing, and removal of foreign bodies not penetrating the globe.