"Pharmageddon" in Florida

03/05/10 Rob Piccirillo
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It’s being called “Pharmageddon in Florida”. That’s the title of a two-day summit highlighting the growing trend of prescription drug use, misuse and abuse in the Sunshine State.

The Florida Society of Addiction Medicine held its Medical and Scientific Conference on Addictions at the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office in Tampa today.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, was the keynote speaker. Goldberger addressed a room of doctors, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals licensed to prescribe controlled substances in the state. Goldberger says prescription deaths are going up.

Goldberger says the Florida legislature has proposed a new law for 2010 to combat “Florida Pharmageddon.” If passed, the law would create a prescription drug monitoring system, bar felons and negligent doctors from owning pain management clinics, and strengthen regulations of pain clinics, which Goldberger says have no regulations currently. The law would also provide training to all physicians who prescribe these medicines.

Goldberger says that Florida is currently the only state that tracks prescription-drug-related deaths, a fact that could be partially attributed to the differentiation between coroners and medical examiners.

Goldberger’s statistics are staggering. As one of the top researchers of prescription drug deaths in Florida, Goldberger finds that 80% of cases are male and 100% are Caucasian. One thing’s for sure: Florida needs some solutions for this growing epidemic. .

Goldberger says that one contributing factor to this epidemic may be that doctors have no way to adequately measure a person’s tolerance level to certain drugs. In addition, there is an apparent disconnect between pain management and pain treatment. Goldberger also says there is a pill called Noloxone, which you can take to prevent death if you start to overdose.

If you think you may be struggling with prescription drug addiction, you can contact the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office by calling (813) 984-1818, or visit http://www.dacco.org.

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