Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
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FDLE says prescription drug deaths are down

Published:
TALLAHASSEE -

Deaths involving prescription drugs are down, according to the 2012 Interim Drugs Identified report released Friday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The report tracks the number of drug-related deaths for the first six months of 2012. The Florida Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics reported about 85,810 deaths from January to June 2012, with 4,126 of those deaths being “drug related,” meaning at least one drug was found in the person’s system.

Compared to the last six months of 2011, oxycodone deaths statewide went down 29.1 percent. Cocaine deaths decreased by 11.6 percent, according to the report, with methadone deaths decreasing by 18.3 percent.

The numbers are collected by medical examiner districts. District 5 includes Hernando, Citrus, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties. Significant numbers for District 5 include:

Thirty-four people died with alprazolam in their system, and the medical examiner identified alprazolam as the cause of death in 21 of those cases.

Of the 37 total deaths with oxycodone reported, the prescription drug caused 16 of those deaths.

Cocaine caused 15 deaths in the first half of 2012, though 29 people had the drug in their system at the time of death.

One person died from heroin during the period studied.

The report said heroin has stayed the course as the most “lethal” drug and that the drugs that caused the most deaths during the first six months of 2012 were benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam; oxycodone; ethyl alcohol; methadone; and cocaine.

In a press release, Gov. Rick Scott said the “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,” Scott said.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said that though prescription drug abuse remains a problem in the state, Florida has become a “national role model for both enforcement and regulation.”

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