Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How Florida reduced prescription drug related deaths

The following message from the Florida Attorney General provides a good example of how effective policies and their enforcement can be in preventing substance abuse.  Policies are especially effective when they address problems specific to a community, in this case the state of Florida.  

At the beginning of my term, prescription drug overdoses were steadily rising over the past seven years. Florida was known as the “pill mill capital of the country” with drug dealers from all over the country traveling to my state to stock up on prescription painkillers. Ninety-eight of the top 100 Oxycodone dispensing doctors lived in Florida. Florida gained national notoriety because of the pill mills throughout the state that were prescribing and dispensing large amounts of controlled substances outside the scopes of standard medical practice. Florida became the destination for distributors and abusers, and seven Floridians were dying every day as a result.

In response, we began implementing various laws and enforcement actions to reverse this alarming trend.  I made fighting this epidemic a top priority and worked with state legislators to pass a tough new law cracking down on pill mills that included prohibiting physicians from dispensing Schedule II and III drugs. Law enforcement then began statewide raids resulting in thousands of arrests including more than 70 pill mill doctors, seizures of more than $10 million, and more than 240 pill mills closing.  I also helped create the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns, which examined the extent of prescription drug abuse among expectant mothers, as well as the costs of caring and the long-term effects for babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Thanks to all of these multi-faceted efforts, pill mills have been closed and Florida is no longer the “pill mill capital of the country.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report on Florida’s success in reversing drug overdose trends. The analysis showed that the crackdown in Florida was followed by a significant decline in prescription drug abuse.  Florida now has the first documented substantial decline in drug overdoes mortality of a state during the past 10 years, and prescription drug related deaths have decreased by 23 percent from 2010 to 2012. 

More information is available on the Attorney General’s website.

No comments:

Post a Comment