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Florida Prescription Drug Deaths Fall In First Half Of 2012

(file photo)

A few years ago patients could walk into any of Florida’s so called pain clinics and receive prescription medication with little to no consultation.  That was until recent legislation cracked down on drug abuse. A new report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the number of drug related deaths in the state fell in the first six months of last year.

The number of drug deaths, specifically from overdoses of the popular pain reliever oxycodone, decreased by nearly 30% in the first 6 months of 2012 compared to the same time in 2011.  Among the drugs that caused the most deaths from January to June 2012 were oxycodone, ethyl alcohol, methadone, cocaine, and a group of drugs called benzodiazepines used often as muscle relaxants or sleeping aids.

“Of the top 100 doctors dispensing these prescription drugs in the entire country 98 of them resided in Florida, we are now down to zero, so we have come a very long way,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi says state and local law enforcement’s use of strike forces and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program played key roles in the recent decrease of drug related deaths.  Even though the drop in oxycodone deaths is close to 30%, said Bondi, they aren’t going to stop there. 

“The strike force is going to continue to keep the fight going, because when one teen dies, that’s too many,” Bondi said.

Since March of 2011 state wide law enforcement closed 254 pain clinics, made 3,700 arrests, and confiscated 848,000 thousand pills.  2011 was also the first time Florida saw a decrease in drug related deaths in nearly a decade.

For more news and information from Steven Rodriguez, follow @StevenFPR on Twitter