FDLE: Drop in Prescription Drug Deaths

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Press Release: Florida Department of Law Enforcement

TALLAHASSEE – The 2012 Interim Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons Report shows a significant decrease in the number of oxycodone deaths in Florida during the first 6 months of 2012 compared to the second half of 2011. Oxycodone death occurrences plunged 29.1 percent while all prescription drug deaths dropped by more than 100 people.

Governor Rick Scott said, “As a husband, father and grandfather, the safety of Florida families is of paramount importance to my administration – and thanks to our sheriffs, police officers and prosecutors, Florida has experienced a 41 year crime low.

Today’s news that deaths related to oxycodone abuse are down by 29 percent means our work to fight prescription drug abuse is working. Two years ago, Florida was home to 90 of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians on a nationwide list, and today Florida isn’t on that list. While this is great news, no family should ever lose a loved one from drug abuse, and we’ll continue working in close partnership with law enforcement to make Florida an even safer place to live.”

In March of 2011, Governor Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi spearheaded efforts to stop prescription drug abuse across Florida by creating the Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force teams and working with lawmakers to close loopholes allowing illegitimate doctors and pharmacies to overprescribe and dispense these dangerous drugs – often under the guise of a pain clinic.

“I am pleased that we are continuing to see a steady decline in the number of prescription drug deaths,” said Attorney General Bondi. “These declining numbers are a direct result of our comprehensive strategy involving partnerships at the local, state, and federal level, and together we are saving lives.”

The report shows that in the first 6 months of 2012, drugs were present or the cause of death in 4,126 people in Florida, a drop of 203 over the interim 2011 report. Despite the decrease in prescription drug deaths, those drugs continued to be found more often than illicit drugs in cause of death.

“Two years ago, Florida was the epicenter of prescription drug abuse; today we are a national role model for both enforcement and regulation,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “We’ve made tremendous strides, but prescription drug abuse remains a significant concern.”

The drugs that caused the most deaths from Jan. – June 2012 were benzodiazepines, oxycodone, ethyl alcohol, methadone and cocaine.

Death occurrences of methadone and hydrocodone decreased 18.3 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively. Deaths caused by cocaine decreased by 11.6 percent. The complete report is attached.

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