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Prescription overdoses killed more Floridians than illegal d
    #1621042 - 06/09/03 04:33 PM (14 years, 11 months ago)


Report: Prescription overdoses killed more Floridians than illegal drugs

By Bob LaMendola
Health Writer
Posted June 6 2003

Prescription drug overdoses killed more people in Florida last year than did illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin, mainly because of abuse of painkillers, a report from the state's medical examiners said Thursday.

Of 2,088 deaths caused by overdoses last year, 60 percent were caused by legal medications while 40 percent were the result of illicit drugs, the report said.

For a second straight year, deaths related to methadone overdoses leaped the most -- up 56 percent -- making it the third leading drug killer behind cocaine and benzodiazepines such as Valium, the report said.

Broward and Palm Beach counties logged the highest number of deaths for most types of drugs, especially the painkillers oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab).

"No, I don't see a letdown in prescription drug abuse," said Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner. "I don't think there's really a week that passes without a death from those drugs."

Many of the deaths have been linked to doctors who make big profits writing prescriptions for painkillers without a sound medical reason, Perper said.

"There are a small number of physicians who have a problem and they prescribe some of them indiscriminately," Perper said. "It's very difficult for law enforcement to prove" the prescription is not legitimate.

Broward led the state with 56 deaths from oxycodone, Palm Beach County was third with 22. Broward led the state with 26 hydrocodone deaths.

Palm Beach County had the most deaths from methadone, at 56, with Broward third at 40. The drug usually is used to help people withdraw from heroin, but officials said doctors have recently started giving it for withdrawal from painkillers, such as oxycodone. Methadone-related deaths jumped by 71 percent in 2001 and then 56 percent last year.

"For these drugs, it's like what is in fashion almost," Perper said. "With illegal drugs, sometimes cocaine is in favor and sometimes heroin is in favor. The same is true for the prescription drugs."

Cocaine and heroin killed more than 677 Floridians last year, but prescription drugs claimed 1,075 lives, a trend underway for several years.

"The way the drug deaths have changed is a surprise to us," said Dr. Stephen J. Nelson, chairman of the state Medical Examiners Commission, which prepared the report.

Not to be forgotten, alcohol directly caused 306 deaths and was a contributing factor in 3,013 others, far and away the most prevalent death-related substance in the report.


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Re: Prescription overdoses killed more Floridians than illegal d [Re: motaman]
    #1622713 - 06/10/03 01:47 AM (14 years, 11 months ago)

Not surprising at all.

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Registered: 01/28/02
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[Re: Adamist]
    #1624003 - 06/10/03 05:11 PM (14 years, 11 months ago)

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Re: Prescription overdoses killed more Floridians than illegal d [Re: Adamist]
    #4690083 - 09/21/05 02:11 PM (12 years, 8 months ago)

Yeah, not suprising, not because doctors are slack with giving out prescriptions, but because more people use prescription drugs than illegal drugs in Florida. Ever wonder about the meaning of "The Waiting for God State"?

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