Reducing the illegal use of prescription drugs and narcotics has led to the reduction in death rates due to opioid overdose in Florida, revealed a new study.
Recent CDC reports have showed that the mortality rates due to prescription opioid overdose are increasing in the US. But the new study published in the American Journal of Public Health
has reported that the deaths due to drug overdose have reduced in Florida compared to North Carolina.
‘Cracking down of “pill mills” has led to reduction of painkiller overdose deaths and heroin overdose deaths in Florida.’
Florida Health authorities have crackdown "pill mills", clinics where doctors prescribe narcotic painkillers for cash, often without examining the patient. This has helped reduce painkiller overdose deaths and heroin overdose deaths as well.
"Curbing the operation of pill mills may be an effective way for states to reduce prescription narcotic overdose death rates and total narcotic overdose death rates," said lead researcher Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, an assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
In 2010 and 2011, Florida passed laws against pill mills, where drug enforcement programs resulted in the arrest and prosecution of doctors operating these clinics.
The study compared Florida overdose trends to those in North Carolina. There were nearly 12,000 deaths in Florida and more than 3,700 deaths in North Carolina from narcotic painkillers or heroin between 2003 and 2012.
From March until December 2010, the death rate from prescription painkiller overdoses in Florida was 7 percent lower than expected. In 2011, the rate was 20 percent lower and in 2012, 34.5 percent lower, the study found.
"Over the nearly three years included in the study, an estimated 1,029 lives were saved in Florida. Moreover, the number of lives saved grew each year as new measures were taken to close pill mills," the researchers said.
"However, we found that the state actions were associated with much lower total narcotic overdose death rates than we would have expected had Florida not implemented these interventions. It is possible that these actions targeting pill mills prevented new prescription narcotic addictions from developing, thus reducing the risk of heroin use," said Kennedy-Hendricks.