Prescription Drug Deaths Decline While Overall Drug Deaths Rise

Winning the battle against prescription drug abuse, Florida’s Attorney General and Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers released a report Wednesday showing a drop in prescription drug overdoses.

“Rarely do we see changes this radical,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The 2011 FDLE drug death report shows a 17% decline in deaths caused by Oxycodone. Overall prescription drug deaths are down six percent.

“We put in place tough penalties. We strengthened the regulation oversight,” said Bondi.

While the state is winning the battle against prescription drug abuse, it may be losing the war. Overall drug deaths rose from 9,001 in 2010, to 9,135 in 2011.

Even so, FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey still considers the decline in prescription drug deaths a victory for Florida. “Florida was recognized as a supplier state for a large part of our country. That particular problem was addressed and I’d call it an unqualified success.”

With the decline in painkiller deaths, comes an increase in overdoses from cocaine and alcohol. A combined 1,200 people died from those drugs last year. But is the crackdown on pills to blame? FDLE hasn’t found a link.

“There’s speculation that it’s a supply and demand issue that some of the addicts, if you will, that we’ve blocked from Oxycodone have turned to these other drugs but we don’t know that,” said Bailey.

Before the report was released, seven people a day were dying from prescription drug overdoses in Florida. While the overall percent has fallen, it hasn’t dropped enough to lower that statistic.

Since May of 2011 Florida’s Drug Strike Force teams have made 3,300 arrests, seized more than 700,000 pills and 10 million dollars in cash. They’ve also closed 254 illegal pain clinics.

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