Jacksonville, FL - A step forward on a still long road- that’s how state law enforcement is framing data released today on the number of prescription drug-related deaths in Florida.
An interim report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement finds there has been a continued decline in the number of people killed by prescription drugs. From January to June 2013, 975 deaths were directly attributed to prescription drugs, down from 1,054 for that same time frame in 2012 and 1,175 in 2011.
But law enforcement is far from taking a sigh of relief.
“Prescription drugs continue to cause more deaths in Florida than illegal drugs,” says FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
Attorney General Pam Bondi says they’ve seen greater gains in fighting oxycodone than expected. The report shows a more than 60% decline in the number of oxycodone deaths, and she believes that’s largely because of Florida’s prescription drug database.
“The second we had those tough laws passed on the top 100 oxycodone dispensers in the entire country, 98 of those jerks and their doctors lived in Florida. And now you know how many of them live here, thanks to these law enforcement officers, is zero,” Bondi says.
Just as we see gains here, however, Bondi and Bailey are looking forward to new threats brewing on the horizon.
“Synthetic drugs are deadly,” Bondi says.
30 Floridians died as a direct result of synthetic drugs, according to this report. Bondi says she has outlawed more than 130 potential strains of the drugs- like spice or bath salts- but dealers continue to rework the composition to get around those restrictions. Florida lawmakers have now made trafficking these drugs illegal, and Bondi says she will continue to pursue new regulation.
Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford says medical marijuana will also be a threat to the state if it’s legalized in November. He says doctors were trusted to distribute oxycodone, and Florida became known as the pill mill capitol, so he has no confidence in doctors to prescribe marijuana.