Rx Drug Deaths Down in Florida
The fall in pill-related fatalities suggests a crackdown is working, and backs findings from a recent nationwide survey.
The Sunshine State long had a reputation as the country's "pill mill" capital, but a report released today suggests that a crackdown on Rx drug abuse may be working. According to figures released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Attorney General Pam Bondi, statewide deaths caused by prescription drug use fell 6%—from 2,710 in 2010, to 2,539 in 2011. This represents the first drop in over a decade and is being credited to Florida's efforts to combat Rx drug abuse through Drug Enforcement Strike Force teams. Since May 2011, the teams have reportedly made 3,390 arrests (including 61 doctors), closed 254 clinics, and seized 785,295 pharmaceutical pills, 106 vehicles, 530 weapons and $9,899,668. “Within two years of establishing our prescription drug abuse efforts, Florida has seen a decrease in prescription drug deaths for the first time in nearly a decade,” says Attorney General Bondi. "We are saving lives, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to end prescription drug abuse in Florida." The welcome drop in deaths may also be a local manifestation of a nationwide trend; a recent SAMHSA survey indicated that prescription drug abuse fell overall in 2011, after surging throughout the previous decade, and that young adults accounted for most of this decline.