Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa forum looks at prescription drug safety

TAMPA — All across Florida, people fail to recognize the signs of widespread prescription drug abuse, doctors and drug experts said Tuesday at a forum to look at ways to solve the rising tide of overdose deaths and abuse.

Well-meaning doctors are fooled by addicts posing as patients. Parents are lulled into believing that their prescriptions are safe from their children and their friends. Even addicts themselves don't realize the strength and danger of the drugs they depend on.

"They're making doctors unwilling participants in the drug trade," said panelist Dr. Rafael Miguel, a professor of anesthesiology and neurosurgery at the University of South Florida, at the forum, which was sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times.

Florida has failed to monitor and track prescription drugs the way most other states have, making it easy for addicts and dealers to get multiple prescriptions from different doctors, Miguel said, winning applause from an audience of about 50 people.

"We don't have a pain-o-meter where you can put a finger in and say, she's having that amount of pain. … We can easily be fooled. (A patient) can be doing the same thing to 10 other physicians."

Doctors such as Miguel take elaborate measures, including random drug tests and counseling, to make sure their patients have real injuries and aren't abusing prescriptions. But audience members said some doctors and drug companies are part of the problem.

"Our kids are hit from a very young age" with drug company ads, said Cindy Harney, whose 20-year-old son Garrett died in 2006 after overdosing. "They think a pill will solve everything."

Harney, who traveled from Sarasota to attend the forum, told other audience members that powerful drugs are prescribed too readily. "How many patients need pain (medicine) that is meant for dying cancer patients?" she asked.

Prescription drugs are becoming more deadly. In 2006, prescription drug overdoses killed 1,720 people in Florida, up about 40 percent in three years. Prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs now kill about 500 people in the Tampa Bay area each year. That's three times as many as the number killed by illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Panelist Bonnie Blake, a psychiatric nurse at Morton Plant Hospital whose stepson died of an overdose, said parents need to take precautions. Lock up your medicines, she said.

The Times sponsored the forum after publishing a series on the problem last month.

Tampa forum looks at prescription drug safety 03/18/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  2. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI

    Bucs

    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  3. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look

    Blogs

    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  4. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often

    Bucs

    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  5. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game

    Crime

    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.