Article Tools

South Florida is like the Afghan province of Kandahar at least one thing: lots of opium. But with a twist, is not obtained directly from the poppy but the pharmacy.

And that is that typical counties of Miami-Dade beach, Broward and Palm Beach, between sunny avenues lined with palm trees, hide “the world capital of the prescription and sale of pain relievers,” according to federal data compiled by the sheriff’s office Broward

Public health experts are already talking about an “epidemic” and complain that it has formed a real industry: sales, indiscriminate practice of drugs derived from opium on a large portion of existing health centers in the area to try only pain.

A report by state officials said that in 2009, an average of seven people died each day from causes related to the abuse of painkillers. In the spotlight is oxycodone.

According StoppNow, an association of relatives of victims of overdose of painkillers in Broward County, Florida-month prescribed more than one million of painkillers.

In South Florida, home to around five million people are registered more than 183 clinics dedicated to treating pain. Only in Broward County there are more than McDonald’s, and not that of these there are few.

It is further believed that there are about 900 clinics across the state, according to claims on its website the association StoppNow.

The problem is national in scope, thousands of Americans travel to Florida with the idea of ​​getting these drugs, and the White House said earlier this year that currently pose the greatest drug problem in the country.

Oxycodone is the deadliest drug in the U.S.: it causes more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Therefore the authorities presented a plan to reduce its abuse by 15% over the next five years.

Elmer Huerta, Washington-based medical and public health expert, told the BBC that oxycodone “is an opioid group of drugs excellent in relieving pain.”

“It is a drug of the most abused in the United States. That decision is relaxed, feels a world apart, as in a state of indifference,” the doctor explains.

The Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti has more than seven years fighting for tougher controls.

“They used to be crack cocaine and heroin, are now in the war on pills and Broward is ground zero. Here’s more pain clinics Starbucks, how is it possible?” Asks Lamberti, quoted by The Miami Herald.

“The problem is that the indiscriminate use can cause addiction, especially in patients prone to it,” said Huerta.

 ”The first step is aspirin, the second non-steroidal painkillers such as ibuprofen, then there’s the tylenol mixed with opium derivatives such as codeine, oxycodone in the fourth and the fifth is occupied by morphine”

According to Huerta, “A good doctor should follow the” ladder of pain. ”

“The first step is aspirin, the second non-steroidal painkillers such as ibuprofen, then there’s the tylenol mixed with opium derivatives such as codeine, oxycodone in the fourth and the fifth is occupied by the morphine.”

With this, the doctor said, oxycodone is appropriate to treat patients leaving the operating room after surgery that can be very painful, as interventions in the spine.

But Florida is that there are no monitoring systems. That is, as explained Huerta, “the different clinics are uncoordinated, recipes and shopping are not recorded in a database on a network, as they should.”

The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, initialed this year a new state law that will impose tighter controls on doctors who prescribe oxycodone and increases the penalties for improper prescribing.

A report of the Medical Examiner released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Florida (FDLE) reports that in the first six months of 2009 there were 88,500 deaths from unnatural causes in the state.

Autopsies of nearly 4,200 cases revealed a positive for any drug. The most frequent was the alcohol and from there, painkillers, just ahead of cocaine.
The most lethal drugs: painkillers

“The drugs causing more deaths were oxycodone and benzodiazepines,” ie, drugs for pain.

The Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, is aware that this is already a serious problem. Therefore launched a program to combat the sale of excess pain medication.

Bondi came to report that many people travel to Florida to get painkillers and then sell them. On the street there is more demand than cocaine or heroin.

It is not unusual sentences to 25 years in prison for trafficking in oxycodone.

He has even taken up the matter, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which launched a hotline to respond within 24 hours doubts about drugs.