On August 8th, the Florida Board of Medicine approved the revision of a rule dating back to 1998 that highly restricted the treatment of obesity as a chronic disease. Under the new revised law, patients have access to the full spectrum of medical, evidence-based treatments, already available across the nation, for long-term management of this complex disease.
The Standards for the Prescription of Drugs that Treat Obesity 64B8-9.012, issued in 1998, restricted prescribing, ordering, dispensing, or administering of any drug, synthetic compound, or nutritional supplement for weight loss. This law was in direct contradiction to FDA approval for such and to the published guidelines by pediatric and adult obesity national experts. This rule impeded healthcare providers in the state of Florida to provide the nationally accepted standard of care for obesity and weight management. The rule also restricted use of telehealth for any weight management related medical visits by requiring in person visits for every encounter, which is not standard of practice for most other chronic disease.
Evexia Medical’s founder, Dr. Florencia Ziemke, a double board-certified physician and obesity medicine expert, together with two other Florida physicians, led the initiative to change this outdated rule.
“I am thrilled to see the new rule put into effect; it’s taken many months of hard work. The 1998 law was structured to be highly restrictive to doctors in the treatment of obesity,” expressed Dr Ziemke. “I was motivated to help eliminate unnecessary barriers to treatment and allow Florida healthcare providers to provide current evidence-based patient care. The old law was instituted at a time where we did not have access to the safe, effective treatment options that are available today, nor an understanding of the complexity of weight, appetite, and metabolism regulation”.
Much has changed in the field of Obesity Medicine since 1998. In 2013, Obesity was officially recognized as a disease. In 2018, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates adopted a policy aimed at removing barriers to obesity treatment such as this law, to enable all people affected by obesity to receive the current standard of care. This resolution emphasizes that obesity is now recognized as a disease requiring long-term treatment to improve both health and quality of life. Short-term treatment is ineffective and more recent long-term studies have demonstrated both safety and effectiveness of anti-obesity medications.
The availability of novel and effective Anti-obesity medications (AOMs) has evolved since 1998. More recently, approved AOMs have a proven record of improving not just weight, but also metabolic abnormalities such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea, just to name a few. Furthermore, the growth of telehealth necessitated by the covid lockdown has demonstrated and confirmed provider ability to perform virtual visits. Home devices can be used for remote patient monitoring and notifying patients in real-time of necessary treatment changes. Telehealth has been proven to be especially effective in treating obesity.
“As incidence of obesity continues to rise exponentially for both the pediatric and adult populations, it was vital to ensure that regulations follow current practice guidelines and standards of care,” explained Dr. Ziemke. “The revision of the rule marks a before and after for the management of obesity. It was imperative to update the rule as we tackle one of the nation’s largest health concerns. The pandemic of obesity facing our country was estimated to cost 1.72 billion dollars per year prior to the covid lockdown and over 320,000 deaths. The burden on human life is now even worse. Not allowing the standard of care enjoyed by people throughout the rest of our country due to out of date and scientifically inaccurate restrictions just increases the burden of disease on Floridians living with obesity”.
Obesity is no less a metabolic disease than diabetes or hypertension. There is still work to be done according to Evexia Medical’s founder, but this rule update is a positive change that marks a new beginning of access to expert-directed care.
To find out more about Evexia Medical’s weight management and nutrition services, visit: www.evexiamed.com or follow Evexia Medical on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
About Evexia Medical:
Based in Jupiter FL, Evexia Medical specializes in medical nutrition and weight management by integrating the four pillars of individualized treatment: evidence-based medicine, technology, tailored nutrition plans and counseling, and lifestyle and behavior change, to obtain sustainable weight management, while focusing on optimal health and wellness.