Prescription Drug Deaths Rose in Florida in 2010

According to an article in The Palm Beach Post, deaths from prescription drugs in Florida now exceed deaths from illegal drugs and increased almost 9 percent last year despite a crackdown by law enforcement.

In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law penalizing those who overprescribe painkillers from “pill mills.” Florida has been a mecca for the sales of illicit prescription drugs from so-called pain clinics. Information from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released Monday, August 15, linked 2,719 Florida deaths in 2010 to prescription drugs, compared to 2,488 in 2009.

Topping the list of most dangerous drugs is oxycodone, which is blamed for 1,516 deaths, nearly three times the death rate for cocaine. The problem is particularly bad for Pinellas and Pasco counties.

On Monday, FDLE officials planned to destroy about 148,000 prescription pills that had been confiscated from South Florida. According to Gov. Scott’s office, Florida launched a prescription drug task force in March which has arrested 17 doctors and seized 252,410 pharmaceutical pills.

There are no numbers available yet about the drug deaths from the first half of 2011, but the governor said oxycodone deaths have declined 17 percent for the year when compared to 2010. Part of the new law tightens the oversight of operating pharmacies and makes changes to a drug-monitoring database by prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from contributing to its operation.

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