TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Attorney General Pam Bondi joined Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey to release the 2011 Medical Examiners Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons Report showing state-wide deaths caused by oxycodone plunged by 17.7 percent in 2011 and overall prescription drug deaths fell by 6.37 percent.
Governor Rick Scott said, “As a father and a grandfather, I want every child to grow up in a Florida that’s safe. To accomplish that goal, we created teams that have worked to target individuals and loopholes that facilitate the abuse of prescription drugs. I am proud of the hard work by law enforcement and the efforts made by General Bondi to reduce prescription drug abuse in Florida.”
In March of 2011, Governor Scott created the Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force teams and along with General Bondi, worked with lawmakers to close loopholes that allowed illegitimate doctors and pharmacies to overprescribe and dispense these dangerous drugs – often under the guise of a pain clinic.
“Within two years of establishing our prescription drug abuse efforts, Florida has seen a decrease in prescription drug deaths for the first time in nearly a decade,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Thanks to our local, state, and federal partners, we are saving lives, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to end prescription drug abuse in Florida.”
The report shows that in 2011 drugs were either present or the cause of death in 9,135 people in Florida. Despite the drop in prescription drug deaths, those drugs continued to be found more often than illicit drugs in cause of death.
“The decrease in prescription drug deaths represents the dedication of law enforcement and shows we are moving in the right direction,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “The numbers are promising, but we have much work ahead.”
The drugs that caused the most deaths in 2011 were benzodiazepines, oxycodone, methadone, cocaine, ethyl alcohol, morphine, hydrocodone and diazepam.
Deaths caused by methadone and hydrocodone decreased .04 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. Deaths caused by benzodiazepines increased by 13 percent, cocaine by 7.7 percent and heroin by 18.8 percent.
“Any decline is welcome and shows we are on the right track, but we are still in our infancy in fighting this problem,” Brevard County Sheriff Jack Parker said. “Prescription drug abuse is one of the most pervasive public safety challenges we have ever had to deal with and the lions share of this battle is still in front of us.”
In Brevard County alone for 2011, the number of decedents who either (i) had the following substances present or (ii) the substance was the actual cause of death or (iii) both were as follows: