Prescription Drug Deaths Decline

Prescription drug deaths decreased during the first half of 2013 compared to the same period the year before.

The report released Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Attorney General Pam Bondi showed that the most significant drop in prescription drug deaths was in those caused by oxycodone and alprazolam.

Combined, the two drugs caused 731 deaths in the first half of 2012. That was reduced to 548 deaths in the first half of last year.

However, hydrocodone deaths are on the rise with 158 in the first half of last year compared to 122 in the first six months of 2012.

The Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners report looked at all deaths related to legal and illegal drugs, and found those requiring a doctor’s prescription were involved in 78 percent of the cases.

The top drugs found by the medical examiners were benzodiazepines (2,287), alcohol (1,996), cocaine (668) and Oxycodone (541), according to the study that looked at deaths in the first six months of 2013.

“Prescription drugs continued to be found more often than illicit drugs, both as the cause of death and present at death,” the report said.

Also, this report was the first that included data on controversial synthetic marijuana. Sixteen deaths were attributed to synthetic drugs that commonly go by names such as Spice or K2.

Overall, there were 975 prescription drug deaths the first half of last year. By comparison, alcohol caused 302 deaths, followed by cocaine with 291 deaths.