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Drug deaths rise, but Operation Medicine Cabinet sees success | Health

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Drug deaths rise, but Operation Medicine Cabinet sees success
Health
Drug deaths rise, but Operation Medicine Cabinet sees success

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says it collected more than 1,000 pounds of pills on Saturday - a record breaking number during the county's sixth installment of Operation Medicine Cabinet. 

The goal of the operation is to collect old, unused medications that could otherwise be thrown away or taken by someone who wasn't prescribed the pills.

"We have quite a few cases where the person that has died of a prescription drug overdose, it's actually not their prescription, it's a relative's, sometimes a dead relative's," says District 6 Medical Examiner John Thogmartin.

In District 6, which covers Pasco and Pinellas Counties, prescription drug-related deaths increased by 12 percent between 2009 and 2010. Just last year, the area experienced 16 percent of the state's Oxycodone-related deaths.

"It's gotten much higher. We set a new record for Oxycodone for any district in the state," says Thogmartin.

Across the state, Oxycodone caused 1,516 deaths - the most of any drug in 2010. That number was up nearly 28 percent from 2009.

And that's part of what state and local officials were concerned about on Saturday as they set up at 13 locations in Pinellas County and hoped it would be a positive step toward a solution.

"That's what it's all about. Working together and state, local, and federal authorities coming together to combat an epidemic that we're going to put an end to in Florida," Florida attorney general Pam Bondi says.

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