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Friday, July 8, 2011

Prescription Drugs Account for Three-Quarters of Overdose Deaths

In the past few months we have been following Florida’s prescription drug epidemic and the steps the Florida government has been taking to work on the problem. A new study has shown that when it comes to drug overdose deaths in Florida between 2003 and 2009, prescription medications were involved in 76 percent of all cases and 34 percent of overdose deaths involved illegal drugs. Clearly, prescription drug have become a more serious problem and without drastic measures this problem will only grow.

Prescription drug death rates increased by 84.2 percent between 2003 and 2009. The three drugs that have been abused the greatest during that time period were oxycodone, followed by alprazolam (Xanax), and methadone. By 2009, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs was four times the number involving illicit drugs, the researchers reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In response to the findings, the CDC believes that there is need to strengthen interventions aimed at reducing overdose deaths from prescription drugs in Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law a bill which aims to stop “pill-mills” across the state as well as a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping. The new bill also imposes new penalties for physicians who are in the practice of overprescribing medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies. Pain management clinics have until Monday to dispose of their stockpiles of particular medications as they are not allowed to deal them out anymore, failure to comply will result in strict punishment.

People in other states have seen the dysfunction in Florida prompting them to cross state lines to get prescriptions in order to sell them in their own state. Federal authorities estimate that 85 percent of oxycodone is sold in Florida.

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