1. Spucky
    Report: Heroin, prescription narcotics most lethal drugs

    In 2009, the four most lethal drugs in Florida were heroin, Methadone, Oxycodone and fentanyl, according to a report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    The Florida Medical Examiners Commission Report on Drugs Identified in Decreased Persons was released Wednesday by FDLE. There were about 171,300 deaths in Florida in 2009. Of those, 8,653 people were found to have died with one or more of the drugs in the report in their bodies.
    The most frequently occurring drugs found in 2009 were ethyl alcohol, at 4,4046; all benzodiazepines, at 3,379; oxycodone, at 1,948; and cocaine, at 1,462. The drugs that caused the most deaths were Oxycodone, Methadone, ethyl alcohol, cocaine, morphine and hydrocodone.

    Also listed were all benzodiazepines, with the majority of deaths caused by Alprazolma. Alprazolma is also known as Xanax, according to the report.
    "Prescription and over-the-counter abuse is growing faster than any other drug segment and law enforcement is responding with aggressive enforcement," Commissioner Gerald Bailey wrote in a prepared statement.
    "FDLE and our partners are working daily to target traffickers, take out pill mills and stop doctors who prescribe pain medicine without medical necessity," he said.

    According to the report, the four drugs that were the most lethal caused death in more than 50 percent when the drug was found. Heroin came in at 85.6 percent, Methadone at 73.1 percent, Oxycodone at 60.8 percent and fentanyl at 56.7.

    Though heroin continues to be the most lethal drug named in the report, occurrences of heroin decreased by 15.9 percent and deaths cause by heroin dropped by 20 percent when compared to 2008, FDLE officials reported.

    In Medical Examiner District 21, which encompasses Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, Oxycodone was identified in 67 cases and Alprazolma was found in 60. Cocaine was a factor in 48 cases, diazepam in 32, Methadone in 31 and Hydrocodone in 24. Morphine was present in 22 and propoxyphene in 16.

    In 2009, heroin was identified in nine cases in District 21 but was the cause in only eight of those cases. According to the report, the figure is up from seven heroin deaths in 2008, four deaths in 2007 and one death in 2006.

    Cocaine-related deaths have decreased in District 21. Compared to the 48 cases recorded in 2009, there were 67 in 2008, 79 in 2007 and 96 in 2006.
    According to Bruce Grant, director of the Office of Drug Control, prescription drugs killed 2,488 Floridians in 2009 - equivalent to nearly seven days per day.

    "The illegal diversion and abuse of prescription drugs continues to be our greatest public health threat," he wrote. "The vast majority of these tragic deaths are due to accidental overdose, the risk of which is greatly enhanced by the mixing of potent, pure and potentially poisonous prescription painkillers and depressants."

    In nine categories of drugs, accidental deaths attributed to between 52 percent and 88 percent of the manner of death. According to the report, suicide came in second place, scoring between 4 percent and 26 percent.
    The Florida Medical Examiners Commission Report on Drugs Identified in Decreased Persons contains information compiled from autopsies performed by medical examiners across the state. To view the 2009 report, visit online the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website: wyz.fdle.state.fl.us.

    Medical examiners collected information in the following drugs: ethyl alcohol; amphetamines; methamphetamines, or crystal meth; MDMA, or Ecstasy; MDA; MDEA; Alprazolma, or Xanax; diazepam, or Valium; flunitrazepam, or Rohypnol; other benzodiazepines; cannabinoids, or marijuana; carisoprodol and meprobamate; cocaine; GHB; inhalants; phencyclidine, or PCP; ketamine; zolpidem; buprenorphine; fentanyl; heroin; Hydrocodone; hydromorphone; meperidine; Methadone; morphine; Oxycodone; oxymorphone; propoxyphene; and tramadol.


    Prescription Drug Deaths Skyrocket

    By John Roberts
    Published November 01, 2011 | FoxNews.com


    More people die in America every year from prescription drug abuse than die from heroin and cocaine combined. That stunning finding comes in a new report Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The CDC found a fourfold increase in deaths from prescription narcotics over the past decade. Not surprisingly, it coincides with a fourfold increase in the number of prescriptions written for the powerful painkillers.

    In 2008, the most recent year for which there are statistics, there were 20,044 overdose deaths from prescription drugs. Of those, 14,800 were from narcotic painkillers.

    The number of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers more than tripled over a decade, the government reported Tuesday.

    Such painkillers "are meant to help people who have severe pain," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which issued the report. "They are, however, highly addictive."

    The report shows nearly 5 percent of Americans ages 12 and older said they've abused painkillers in the past year _ using them without a prescription or just for the high.

    Quote from: Deaths from painkiller overdose triple in decade, The Associated Press,
    Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 | 9:16 a.m.

    “Prescription overdoses are epidemic in the U.S.”, says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. Most people who die from prescription drug overdose are taking someone else’s medicines, he says. “Medicines that were left in the medicine cabinet. Medicines that were given to a friend or a relative. Maybe innocently, maybe maliciously.”

    Prescription narcotics are being handed out almost like candy by doctors – some of whom are genuinely interested in patient care – others who run so-called “pill mills”, where narcotic prescriptions are traded for cash to feed addictions. The CDC study found that enough narcotics are prescribed every year to medicate each and every adult in America every day for a month.

    “It’s astonishing”, says Frieden. He adds that many addictions begin innocently, when patients are given narcotics for a minor injury that could be treated with less addictive medication. “When I went to medical school, we were incorrectly assured – don’t worry – if patients have short-term pain, they won’t get hooked. That was completely wrong, and a generation of doctors, patients and families have learned that’s a tragic mistake.”

    Death and abuse rates vary widely across the country and don’t necessarily correlate. New Mexico has the highest death rate, followed by West Virginia, Nevada, Utah and Alaska. The highest abuse rate is in Oklahoma, followed by Oregon, Washington state, Rhode Island and Kentucky. The CDC report also found the highest death rates tend to be in either rural or impoverished counties.

    The prescription drug epidemic has created a monumental law enforcement problem. The incoming Sheriff in Florida’s Pinellas County calls it “The most serious public safety issue we face.” Bob Gualtieri admits that despite intensive efforts at enforcement – targeting pill mills and users, they haven’t made a dent in the problem. And he says – unlike the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1990s, which was mostly an inner-city problem, prescription drug abuse is far more widespread. “This problem crosses all walks of life, crosses all socio-economic classes. Crosses all races and gender, national origin, age.”

    In fact, the CDC report found the death rate among non-Hispanic whites and American Indians/Alaska Natives was three times higher than among Blacks and Hispanic whites.

    Many states have passed new laws to monitor the prescribing of narcotic painkillers. Dr. Frieden says some laws have made a difference. Washington state, for example, has lowered its death rate, though it remains high.

    Despite modest inroads, CDC researchers say the epidemic of prescription narcotic overdoses has continued to worsen. In today’s report, they caution doctors to only use narcotic painkillers in patients who are carefully screened and monitored, and for whom non-narcotic medications are insufficient.

    That recommendation may help to reduce the number of new patients who inadvertently get hooked. The intentional abuse of prescription drugs among people who may prefer them to illicit substances like cocaine and heroin is another problem altogether, and one experts say can only be attacked through education and law enforcement.
  2. catseye
    Why on earth do they find this "stunning"? :s

    To put it into some kind of perspective - considering the number of deaths reported in the National Center for Health Statistics 2011 from alcohol (~23,000) and accidental poisoning (~30,500) by comparison, it's not really such an obscenely high number.
    I'm not trying to minimise the fact that numbers of death from prescription drugs are rising...but the way that the article was worded is so damn sensationalist. Well done, FoxNews :confused:
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