PASCO and PINELLAS Counties Lead Florida in Oxycodone Deaths

According to a story in this week’s Tampa Tribune, the painkiller Oxycodone caused more deaths in Florida last year than any other drug (according to a report released this morning), and nowhere did it cause more deaths than in the medical examiner district for Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Of the 941 deaths statewide brought about by the substance, 209 were in the two (2) Tampa Bay counties, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission report. In comparison, the medical examiner’s office that covers Hillsborough County reported 101 deaths caused by Oxycodone.

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Oxycodone is the active ingredient in Oxycontin, the time-released pain killer to which Michael Jackson was reportedly addicted.

Bill Pellan, investigations director for the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office, attributed the high number, in part, to the office’s efforts to detect drugs during autopsies. Among other things, the office has an in-house toxicology department and police also have been trained to look for pill bottles at death scenes.

Following Oycodone, the drugs that caused the most deaths were, in order, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Cocaine, Ethyl Alcohol, Morphine and Hydrocodone, the report states.

The report also notes that there were 236 more deaths statewide caused by Oxycodone in 2008 than in 2007. There was also a substantive increase in the so-called “occurrences” of Oxycodone in autopsies, in which it didn’t necessarily cause the death of the person examined. The increase in “occurrences’ was 25.6 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Deaths caused by Heroin also increased, by 28 percent, compared with 2007, the report states. But deaths caused by Methadone decreased, by nearly 12 percent. Deaths caused by Cocaine also decreased, by 23 percent.

Scary stuff. Be safe out there…..

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