LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Attorney General Pam Bondi says Florida's relentless effort to crack down on illegal pill mills is finally starting to pay off.

Bondi stood with law enforcement officers at the state Capitol Tuesday and announced drug-related deaths across Florida dropped in 2012 to their lowest level in five years.

Medical examiners report 8,330 people died of drug-related causes last year. That's down from 9,135 the previous year.

Florida enacted tough laws against pill mills two years ago and Bondi says that action has helped reduce deaths from prescription drug abuse.

Deaths from oxycodone dropped 41 percent last year.

Overall deaths from prescription drugs decreased 10 percent.

Drug strike force teams have arrested more than 4,000 people, including 76 doctors, and confiscated more than 875,000 pills, 578 weapons and closed 254 illegal pain clinics.

"Of the top 100 oxycodone dispensers, these are doctors, in the entire country, 98 of them lived in our state and now we're down to zero," said Bondi.

But police say the job is not done.

"We're seeing an increase in deaths resulting from methamphetamine and heroin. But Florida sheriffs have worked tirelessly to rid our state of pill mills and will continue to bolster our efforts through training and enhancement to make a difference in the number of fatal drug overdoses in the state of Florida," said Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford on behalf of the Florida Sheriffs Association.

Bondi says too many children are raiding their parents' medicine cabinets to get their hands on prescription drugs, so she has this message for parents.

"If you have this stuff in your cabinet, get rid of it. Get it out of your cabinets. Take it away from your kids. Talk to your kids about it."

Even with the reduction of oxycodone-related deaths, that prescription drug caused the most deaths last year, killing 735 people. Alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication, proved second deadliest, causing 639 deaths.

Other drugs causing deaths included: ethyl alcohol (573), cocaine (549), methadone (512), morphine (415), hydrocodone (244) and diazepam (205).

The drug deaths are detailed in the annual Florida medical examiners report. It shows 178,000 people died in Florida in 2012 and 8,330 deaths were drug-related.

The report says the vast majority of those people had more than one drug in their bodies.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE