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PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Florida's drug problem: 49 of top 50 oxycodone prescribers are from state

The statement

"Nearly all of the top 50 prescribers of oxycodone in the United States are in Florida."

Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Feb. 28 in an op-ed published in Florida newspapers.

The ruling

Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin and other painkillers such as Percocet. Oxycodone abuses have been well documented, particularly the problems in Florida. From 2001 to 2008, more than 2,000 Floridians have died of overdoses of oxycodone, the St. Petersburg Times reported in a series of stories.

We started by asking the Governor's Office of Drug Control, a group Kottkamp leads, to see if his figure was accurate.

Bruce Grant, the director of the drug control office, cited a report from the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse. While the report focuses primarily on Broward County, it uses national figures from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to say that 49 of the 50 top prescribers are in Florida.

And 25 of the top 50 prescribers are in Broward, according to the report, which relied on figures from Oct. 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009.

"We're trying — without saying the sky is falling — to let people know this is a genuine crisis," said Grant. "This is bad."

Grant said South Florida has become a popular marketplace for people from all over the country who want the painkiller.

"If you go down there, when you see what's going on, it will blow your mind," Grant said. "The parking lots are literally filled with out of state plates. People from Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, they're hanging around. People are lined up outside the doors."

DEA Special Agent David Melenkevitz, who is based in Miami, confirmed the accuracy of the Broward report. He said the numbers come from oxycodone distribution statistics, which the DEA tracks. A list of the specific pharmacies or clinics is not public record, Melenkevitz said.

And so we rate Kottkamp's statement True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For the full ruling — and others — go to PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Florida's drug problem: 49 of top 50 oxycodone prescribers are from state 03/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 5:57pm]
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