Florida: More Deaths from Oxycodone than Cocaine

Friday, July 03, 2009
Despite a noticeable drop in cocaine-related overdoses, Florida law enforcement officials are not celebrating. Prescription drug abuse has now become the leading cause of drug-related overdoses, primarily from the powerful pain killer oxycodone, with ramifications that extend beyond the Sunshine State.
Almost 1,000 people died in 2008 from taking oxycodone, representing a 33% increase over 2007, and a nearly 60% increase from four years ago. Meanwhile, cocaine overdoses declined by 23% last year to 648. The dramatic rise in overdoses from painkillers stems from a growing black-market trade centered largely in Broward County, dubbed the nation’s capital of illegal prescription drug trafficking by Florida police. Approximately 100 pain clinics in Broward supply the bulk of the illicit trade, which has expanded into Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Massachusetts.
In a first step to stem the illegal sale of painkillers, the state legislature adopted a new law establishing a statewide database to monitor prescription sales and expanding oversight of pain clinics. The new database, which won’t begin operating until next year, is designed to detect addicts and drug dealers buying pills from multiple doctors, otherwise known as “doctor shopping.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Soar in Florida (by Scott Hiasson, Miami Herald)


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