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Florida Called “Epicenter” of Prescription Drug Abuse

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on October 13, 2011

A new study has found that overdoses of prescription painkillers now kill more people in the U.S. each year than auto accidents do, and they have become the leader in preventable deaths in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal overdoses from prescription medication more than tripled to 13,800 from 1999 to 2006 in the U.S. Recent data suggest that overdoses have nearly tripled again since 2006, with at least 37,485 people killed in 2009 from taking powerful painkillers such as OxyContin, Xanax, Vicodin and others. James O. Cunningham and other Orlando personal injury attorneys are especially concerned that our state is now being called the “epicenter” of this abuse. Recently, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has indicted dozens of physicians and operators of clinics for unnecessarily prescribing these potentially lethal drugs.

Since 2001, there have been at least 37 criminal cases against doctors for medical negligence, with the vast majority of these cases involving the over-prescription of painkillers, according to Reuters, the international media outlet. However, their estimation of the scope of the problem differs sharply from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) figures, which indicate that 43 doctors were arrested for over-prescribing painkillers in 2008 alone. The DEA reports that 28 of its 226 successful convictions of doctors for over-prescribing drugs since 2003 occurred in Florida, around 12 percent of all convictions in the U.S.

Bondi has led a strike force to address the problem, and state lawmakers have responded to the challenge by recently passing a law that prevents doctors from writing prescriptions at clinics. However, critics of the new law – many of them Florida doctors – say that DEA agents are pursuing doctors because they are easier targets. They say that a very small number of irresponsible physicians are making it difficult for doctors to help patients who experience chronic pain and need the painkillers to manage it.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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