FDLE and Floarida Medical Examiners Release Interim Report of 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 2010. During that period there were approximately 89,800 deaths in Florida. Of those, 4,150 individuals were found to have died with one or more of the drugs specified in this report in their bodies.

The report indicates the four most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were Ethyl Alcohol (1,831), all Benzodiazepines (1,700 including 986 Alprazolam occurrences), Oxycodone (1,117) and Cocaine (603). The drugs that caused the most deaths were Oxycodone, all Benzodiazepines (with Alprazolam accounting for the majority of the deaths), Methadone, Ethyl Alcohol, and Cocaine.
“It is no longer just illegal narcotics like cocaine and heroin being bought and sold on our streets.  Drug dealers have made legal narcotics a top-shelf product,” said Commissioner Gerald Bailey.  “Even when used correctly by a prescribing physician, these are potent drugs.  When abused, overused and mixed, they can become deadly.”
Medical Examiners Commission report for the first six months of 2010 continues to show the lethal consequences of the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs,” said Bruce Grant, Director of the Office of Drug Control. “This new drug crisis rivals the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. We must get agencies at all levels of government along with our communities and our medical professionals to step up and take action.”
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 (83.3 percent), Methadone (75.5 percent), Oxycodone (64 percent), and Fentanyl (52.5 percent). Heroin continues to be the most lethal drug named in the report; however, occurrences decreased by 40 percent and deaths caused by Heroin also decreased by 40.5 percent over the last half of 2009.
Deaths caused by Methadone and Cocaine declined by 1.2 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively, compared to the last six months of 2009. 
Occurrences of Oxycodone (10.9 percent) and Hydrocodone (4.1 percent) increased when compared with the last six months of 2009. Also, deaths caused by Oxycodone (63 more than July-December 2009) and Hydrocodone (10 more than July-December 2009) increased.
The report also indicates 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. Prescription drugs account for 81 percent of all drug occurrences in this report when Ethyl Alcohol is excluded.
The Florida Medical Examiners Commission 2010 Interim Report of Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons is available on the FDLE Web site at
For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith or Keith Kameg
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001
Jeffrey Cece
Office of Drug Control
(850) 413-8157