Decline in drug overdose deaths after state policy changes - Florida, 2010-2012

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Jul 4;63(26):569-74.


During 2003-2009, the number of deaths caused by drug overdose in Florida increased 61.0%, from 1,804 to 2,905, with especially large increases in deaths caused by the opioid pain reliever oxycodone and the benzodiazepine alprazolam. In response, Florida implemented various laws and enforcement actions as part of a comprehensive effort to reverse the trend. This report describes changes in overdose deaths for prescription and illicit drugs and changes in the prescribing of drugs frequently associated with these deaths in Florida after these policy changes. During 2010-2012, the number of drug overdose deaths decreased 16.7%, from 3,201 to 2,666, and the deaths per 100,000 persons decreased 17.7%, from 17.0 to 14.0. Death rates for prescription drugs overall decreased 23.2%, from 14.5 to 11.1 per 100,000 persons. The decline in the overdose deaths from oxycodone (52.1%) exceeded the decline for other opioid pain relievers, and the decline in deaths for alprazolam (35.6%) exceeded the decline for other benzodiazepines. Similar declines occurred in prescribing rates for these drugs during this period. The temporal association between the legislative and enforcement actions and the substantial declines in prescribing and overdose deaths, especially for drugs favored by pain clinics, suggests that the initiatives in Florida reduced prescription drug overdose fatalities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alprazolam / poisoning
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Overdose / mortality*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Illicit Drugs / poisoning
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Law Enforcement
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxycodone / poisoning
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Prescription Drugs / poisoning
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Oxycodone
  • Alprazolam