Florida Sees Significant Drop in Number of Oxycodone Deaths in First Half of 2012

The number of deaths due to oxycodone decreased by 29 percent in Florida in the first six months of 2012, compared with the second half of the previous year, according to a new report.

The drugs that caused the most deaths in the first half of 2012 were benzodiazepines, oxycodone, ethyl alcohol, methadone and cocaine. The report found deaths due to methadone and hydrocodone decreased 18.3 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively. Deaths caused by cocaine decreased by 11.6 percent.

The report, issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, provides evidence the state is successfully fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic, officials said. For many years, Florida was a popular destination for people who wanted to buy prescription drugs at “pill mills” and doctors’ offices, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

In 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse by controlling pill mills in the state. The law authorized the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposed new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies.

The law had a major impact, according to a state government news release. “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,” the release states.

“I am pleased that we are continuing to see a steady decline in the number of prescription drug deaths,” said Florida Attorney General Pam 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.”

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