2007 Interim Report by Florida Medical Examiners Commission on Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons

Today, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released the Florida Medical Examiners Commission Report on Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons. The report contains information compiled from autopsies performed by medical examiners across the state from January through June 2007. During that period there were approximately 87,500 deaths in Florida. Of those, 3,980 individuals were found to have died with one or more of the drugs specified in this report in their bodies.

Medical Examiners specifically collected information on these drugs: Ethyl Alcohol, Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA, MDEA, Alprazolam, Diazepam, Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), other Benzodiazepines, Cannabinoids (Marijuana), Carisoprodol/Meprobamate, Cocaine, GHB, Inhalants, Ketamine, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Propoxyphene, Tramadol, and Phencyclidine (PCP).

The report reveals increased incidences of Hydromorphone, Methamphetamine, Diazepam, Cannabinoids, Alprazolam, Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydrocodone, Ethyl Alcohol, all Benzodiazepines, Fentanyl, Morphine, Carisoprodol, Propoxyphene, and other Opioids in the first half of 2007 when compared with the last half of 2006. These increases include cases in which the drug levels were both lethal and non-lethal.

Some decreased incidences of drugs, when compared to the last six months of 2006, were Heroin, Tramadol, all Methylated Amphetamine cases (which includes a decrease in Amphetamine), other Benzodiazepines, and Cocaine.

The report indicates the three most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were Ethyl Alcohol (1,902), all Benzodiazepines (1,167), and Cocaine (1,008). The drugs that caused the most deaths were Cocaine, Methadone, all Benzodiazepines (with Alprazolam accounting for the majority of the deaths), Oxycodone, Ethyl Alcohol, Hydrocodone, and Morphine.

The four drugs that were the most lethal, meaning more than 50 percent of the deaths were caused by the drug when the drug was found, were Heroin (84.4 percent), Methadone (73.5 percent), Oxycodone (56.9 percent), and Fentanyl (55.3 percent).

The report also reveals that prescription drugs continued to be found more often than illicit drugs in both lethal and non-lethal levels during the first part of this year.

“While there are positive downward trends with several of the drugs in this report, there are still too many drug-related deaths,” FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said.

“The Medical Examiner’s Report for the first six months of 2007 continues the horrific news about drug overdose deaths in our state,” said Office of Drug Control Director Bill Janes “Prescription drugs and cocaine-related deaths remain at alarming levels. Reducing this unacceptable trend is a critical priority for the Office of Drug Control and our state and community partners. These deaths are preventable and tragic for our families, communities, and state. We must do a better job in educating our citizens regarding the ultimate consequences from drug abuse.”

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission 2007 Interim Report of Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons is available on the FDLE Web site at

For more information, contact:
Andy Benard
Office of Drug Control
(850) 488-9557

Stephen J. Nelson, M.D.
Chairman, Florida Medical Examiners Commission
(863) 298-4600

Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Public Information Office
(850) 410-7001