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Florida shedding its reputation as the Oxy-Express

4:18 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announces prescription drugs deaths in Florida are down and credits the state's efforts against illegal pill mills. “We’re working as a team to stop this and to stop the embarrassment of being known as the Oxy-Express.”
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Tallahassee, Florida - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says Florida has finally shed its reputation as the Oxy-Express - a place where criminals could easily get their hands on powerful pain killers like Oxycodone at illegal pill mills.

On Wednesday, Bondi announced prescription drug deaths dropped six percent in 2011 and deaths caused by Oxycodone declined 17 percent.

She praised the efforts of law enforcement, lawmakers and health professionals to combat the problem.

"We're working as a team to stop this and to stop the embarrassment of being known as the Oxy-Express."

Florida started cracking down on pill mills last year with tougher legislation and drug strike force teams. Police have arrested more than 3,000 people, including 61 doctors, and seized 785,000 pills as they shut down more than 250 pill mills.

But Bondi says there's still much work to be done. Deaths from alcohol, cocaine and anti-anxiety drugs are up. And the total number of deaths from prescription and illegal drugs has also risen.

A new report shows more than 9,100 people died of drug-related causes last year. That's up more than 100 people from 2010.

Anti-anxiety medications caused the most deaths - nearly 2,000.

But Bondi says the state's crackdown on pill mills is working faster than anyone expected.

"This is a milestone. We know we have a long way to go. We have so far to go in this fight against drugs but these numbers to us in such a short time are truly remarkable. Rarely do we see changes this radical so fast."

Bondi urges parents to get these drugs out of medicine cabinets.

"It's either your kids or their friends. They're taking it out of the medicine cabinets and it's all about awareness and that's what the medicine abuse project aims to prevent, half a million teens from abusing medicine."

Bondi says parents can get helpful information on safeguarding medicine at www.MedicineAbuseProject.org.

Dave Heller

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