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


Today, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Florida Medical Examiners Commission released the state’s annual report on Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons. The report contains information compiled from autopsies performed by medical examiners across the state in 2007. During that period, there were more than 168,900 deaths in Florida. Of those, 8,620 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, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB), Inhalants, Ketamine, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Propoxyphene, Tramadol, and Phencyclidine (PCP).

The report reveals incidences of Amphetamine, MDA, Meperidine, Methamphetamine and all Methylated Amphetamines decreased when compared with 2006. These decreases include cases in which the drug levels were both lethal and non-lethal.

Incidences of Oxycodone, Methadone, Cocaine, Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, Diazepam, Ethyl Alcohol, and Heroin increased in 2007.

The report indicates the three most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were Ethyl Alcohol (4,179), all Benzodiazepines (2,627), and Cocaine (2,179). The drugs that caused the most deaths were Cocaine, Methadone, all Benzodiazepines (includes Alprazolam), Oxycodone, Ethyl Alcohol, Hydrocodone, and Morphine. Despite the increase in heroin incidences, deaths caused by heroin still remain lower than in 2005 or any prior year.

The report indicates that prescription drugs (Benzodiazepines, Carisoprodol/Meprobamate, and all Opiods, excluding Heroin) continued to be found more often than illicit drugs in both lethal and non-lethal levels.

“This year’s report again reflects that using drugs often leads to fatal consequences,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “FDLE and our law enforcement partners are working aggressively to take illegal narcotics off the streets, and to educate Florida’s families about the dangers of the abuse of prescription drugs.”

“The rate of deaths caused by prescription drugs is over three times as high as the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined,” said Director of the Office of Drug Control Bill Janes. “We have not yet implemented a statewide monitoring plan that will help reduce the problem. The monitoring plan is our priority effort, but that is not enough. We are working to increase awareness among our families by focusing our efforts on communities, schools, businesses, churches, and the media. Prescription drugs are not safe and must be secured. Doctors and pharmacists must help law enforcement identify and stop doctor shoppers. We are also looking for ways to curb illegal internet sales. Only through a comprehensive, coordinated strategy will we be able to reverse this tragic, unacceptable trend.”

The Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners – 2007 Report is available on the FDLE Web site at

For more information, contact: 

Bill Janes
Governor’s 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