Florida law enforcement and drug officials Thursday compared a spike in deaths associated with prescription drug abuse during the first half of this year to the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.

The number of overdoses on powerful pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone has spiked drastically this year compared to 2009, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement medical examiner’s report on drugs found in deceased persons.

In the first six months of this year, which is the time frame the report looks at, deaths associated with oxycodone spiked 10.9 percent and hydrocodone by 4.1 percent, compared to the first six months of 2009.

Prescription drugs also accounted for 81 percent of all drug occurrences in the report, when alcohol was excluded in cases, according to an FDLE press release.

“This new drug crisis rivals the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. We must get agencies at all levels of government along with our communities and our medical professionals to step up and take action,” stated Bruce Grant, Florida Director of the Office of Drug Control.

The full medical examiner’s report can be seen here.

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