Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco yesterday announced that three permanent locations have been set up in the county for the drop-off of unused and expired prescription drugs. The move is just the latest push to thwart Florida’s prescription drug problem, which has reached near-epidemic proportions. Pinellas and Pasco counties led the state in prescription drug overdose deaths last year, with 207 and 142 deaths, respectively.

Florida has been a main battleground for the prescription drug epidemic, but the state’s recently implemented prescription drug monitoring program (known as E-FORCSE) aims to change that. The database, which only recently went live, will track all controlled substance prescriptions that are filled in Florida, and will assist law enforcement in curbing the proliferation of “doctor-shopping,” in which a patient sees several different physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions of a certain drug.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, attended the Pasco County press conference yesterday. ”This is sort of Pasco’s ‘permanent take-back program,’” says Greg Giordano, Fasano’s chief legislative aide. “Sheriff Chris Nocco has made fighting prescription drug a top priority since he was appointed sheriff this past spring. He has also released a new public service announcement in which he explains the dangers of pharm parties. The senator is pleased that the sheriff is taking such a hands-on approach to battling this problem.”

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