Drug Strike Forces Reducing Florida’s Label as ‘Oxy-Express’
Death by oxycodone dropped 17.7 percent in 2011, with overall deaths from prescription drugs down 6.37 percent, according to a state report released Thursday by Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
The 2011 Medical Examiners Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons Report stated that drugs caused 9,135 deaths in 2011, with alcohol and prescription medicine causing more fatalities than illicit drugs.
Bailey credited the overall decrease to the work of the seven regional drug enforcement strike forces that since being created in 2011 have resulted in 3,300 arrests, including 61 doctors, with 254 pill mills closed.
“We still have a drug problem,” Bailey said. “Our work is not complete.”
The drugs that caused the most deaths in 2011 were benzodiazepines, oxycodone, methadone, cocaine, ethyl alcohol, morphine, hydrocodone and diazepam.
Bondi created the work of legislators and law enforcement for closing loopholes that allowed illegitimate doctors and pharmacies to overprescribe and dispense drugs often under the guise of a pain clinic.
“We were surprised at how fast the legislation work,” Bondi said before noting that more work is needed to remove Florida’s label as the “oxy-express.”
In a release, Gov. Rick Scott praised Bondi and law enforcement.
“As a father and a grandfather, I want every child to grow up in a Florida that’s safe,” Scott stated.
“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.”
View the report highlights here.