On the same day Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, announced legislation to repeal the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, the DEA announced that more than 500 million doses of oxycodone were distributed in this state in 2009.
The Sun-Sentinel reported on Monday:
Florida distributed more than a half-billion doses of the pain drug oxycodone in 2009, twice as many as the next nearest state and up sharply from the previous year, newly obtained federal figures show.
Rogue pain clinics were booming that year in South Florida, developing into the industry that is now the top supplier of narcotic pills — especially oxycodone — to drug dealers and addicts in the Southeast. The trade has spread to Central Florida and elsewhere.
“[The] increase in distribution of oxycodone in Florida is what we would expect to see occur with the rise in the illegal pill mill business,” said Mark R. Trouville, special agent in charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in South Florida. The figures were developed by the DEA and are the latest available.
According to a Florida Medical Examiners’ 2009 report, drugs that caused the most deaths in the state in that year included oxycodone (1,185) and hydrocodone (265). The report also shows a steady rise in the number of deaths due to the use of oxycodone from July 2008 through December 2009.
The Sentinel added:
Jim Hall, director of the Center for the Study & Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University, said the new figures suggest that Florida cannot combat the pain drug problem solely by shutting down pill mills.
Hall said his analysis showed pain clinics distributed only about 16 percent of oxycodone pills in Florida. Most were sold by pharmacies, he said, meaning Florida needs to do a better job controlling “doctor shopping,” a practice in which addicts and dealers get drugs from a number of doctors and pharmacies.