2006 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 in 2006. During that period there were more than 171,000 deaths in Florida. Of those, 7,741 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, Carisoprodol/Meprobamate, Cocaine, GHB, Inhalants, Ketamine, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Propoxyphene, Tramadol, and Phencyclidine (PCP).

The report reveals decreased incidences of Heroin, Meperidine, Propoxyphene, Morphine, Tramadol, Ethyl Alcohol, and all Benzodiazepines in 2006 when compared to 2005. These decreases include cases in which the drug levels were both lethal and non-lethal. Deaths with lethal levels of Heroin showed a significant decrease in 2006, while lethal levels of Morphine, Propoxyphene, and all Benzodiazepines decreased slightly.

Some increased incidences of drugs were Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, Cannabinoids, and Hydrocodone. Deaths with the occurrences of MDMA (Ecstasy) and MDA more than doubled in 2006 compared to 2005. In 2006, incidences of Cocaine were reported at 2,052, which is the highest level reported since the Commission began tracking Cocaine-related deaths in 1987.

The report indicates the three most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were Ethyl Alcohol (3,698), Cocaine (2,052), and all Benzodiazepines (1,987). The drugs that caused the most deaths were Cocaine, Methadone, all Benzodiazepines, Oxycodone, Alprazolam, Ethyl Alcohol, Hydrocodone, and Morphine.

The four drugs that were the most lethal, meaning more than 50% of the deaths were caused by the drug when the drug was found, were Heroin (81.3%), Methadone (73.5%), Fentanyl (59.9%), and Oxycodone (53.7%).

The report also reveals that prescription drugs continued to be found more often than illicit drugs in both lethal and non-lethal levels.

"While it is good news that heroin deaths are declining, the increase in deaths with cocaine and the continued abuse of prescription drugs is disturbing." said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. "This report confirms the devastation that Florida's families are experiencing as a result of drug abuse."

"The Medical Examiners Report continues to provide important, but disturbing, information about the devastation caused by drug abuse in Florida. Recent trends in prescription drug and cocaine-related deaths have continued in 2006", said Office of Drug Control Director Bill Janes. "Too many Floridians do not understand how deadly prescription drugs can be. Prescription drug-related deaths occur nearly three times more frequently than illegal drug-related deaths. Our office will continue to work with our state and community partners to stop these unacceptable trends."

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission 2006 Report of Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons is available on the FDLE Web site at

For more information, contact:
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