Make us your home page
Instagram

Oxycodone top drug killer in Florida, especially in Pinellas and Pasco counties

The prescription painkiller oxycodone was the leading cause of drug-related death in Florida in 2008, according to figures released Tuesday.

Nowhere in the state was the drug tied to more deaths than in Pinellas and Pasco counties. Of 941 state deaths linked to oxycodone, 209 occurred in the two-county area, according to a report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.

Deaths related to oxycodone, which has been in the news as a suspect in the sudden death of Michael Jackson, were up 33.5 percent in Florida from the year before. In Hillsborough County, oxycodone, the active ingredient in drugs like OxyContin, was linked to 101 deaths in 2008.

Hydrocodone, a painkiller related to oxycodone, was tied to 270 deaths statewide.

The medical examiner's report was issued the same day that an FDA advisory committee recommended either banning or putting a black-box warning on medicines that contain oxycodone or hydrocodone, but also have high levels of acetaminophen, which has been linked to liver damage.

Dr. Rafael Miguel, a specialist in pain management in Tampa, said he welcomes a stronger warning on boxes on those medications, but he worries if the drugs with acetaminophen are eliminated as options, more patients will seek higher-powered narcotic drugs.

"Your mom and mine will hear the news and say they want nothing to do with acetaminophens," he said.

The medical examiner's commission concluded that prescription drugs were tied to more drug overdoses than illicit substances like cocaine or heroin.

Benzodiazepines, sedatives like Xanax and Valium, were the second-biggest class of drugs causing death in Florida, with 929 cases last year.

Dr. Jon R. Thogmartin, the chief medical examiner for Pasco and Pinellas counties, said deaths caused by heroin have dropped significantly while deaths from oxycodone and other pain pills have surged.

"That's because people are replacing it with FDA-approved prescription opiates like oxycodone that do the same thing. Why buy horrible stuff you have to inject when you can just take a pill?"

Concern about the abuse of prescription drugs led to the recent passage of a prescription monitoring bill that is expected to help curtail doctor-shopping.

Kris Hundley can be reached at khundley@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2996.

Oxycodone top drug killer in Florida, especially in Pinellas and Pasco counties 06/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 3:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.