Prescription drug deaths down in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida appears to be winning its battle on prescription drugs, according to the 2012 Interim Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons Report.

The report states that the number of Florida residents that died as a result of prescription drugs dropped last year.

Specifically,  there was a decrease of oxycodone deaths in Florida during the first 6 months of 2012 compared to the second half of 2011. Oxycodone death occurrences plunged more than 25 percent, while all prescription drug deaths dropped by more than 100 people.

It's progress on an effort spearheaded by Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to stop prescription drug abuse. In March of 2011, they created the Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force teams and began with working with lawmakers to close loopholes allowing illegitimate doctors and pharmacies over-prescribing medication through pill mills.

Governor Scott says that when they began the endeavor, Florida was home to 90 of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians on a nationwide list.

However, he says the fight isn't over yet.

"While this is great news, no family should ever lose a loved one from drug abuse," Scott said. "We'll continue working in close partnership with law enforcement to make Florida an even safer place to live."

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.

"We've made tremendous strides, but prescription drug abuse remains a significant concern," Floria Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said.

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.

To dispose of unwanted prescription drugs properly and keep them away from children and out of the water supply and to find Sheriff's offices drop box locations and community drop box locations click here .

Statistics from Florida Department of Law Enforcement press release.

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