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Appendix C. Prescription Drug Key Impacts and Cost Estimates

The prescription drug epidemic poses significant impacts to Pinellas County citizens and substantial costs across systems and services. The following list is only a sample of the costs identified:

  • Local Law Enforcement: (Increased Enforcement Costs)
  • Jail: (Inmate Housing and Service Costs)
  • Local Treatment Programs: (Treatment Service Demands)
  • Medical Examiner’s Office: (Operational Costs due to Increased Deaths)
  • County Government: (Regulatory, Health, Justice System Impacts, etc.)
  • Florida Department of Health: (Regulatory, Enforcement, and Local Health Costs)
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement: (Investigative Costs, Lab Costs)
  • Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (Juvenile Detention and Service Costs)
  • Florida Department of Corrections: (Prisoner Costs)
  • Florida Department of Children and Families: (Treatment/Child Protection/Sheltering)
  • Emergency Medical Services: (Increased Service Costs from Overdose Response and Transport)
  • Hospitals: (Costs of Overdoses, Costs of Drug Addicted Newborns, etc.)
  • Court Operations: (Increased Number of Cases)


In the following 5 examples, estimated system costs are broken out for prescription related deaths, newborns addicted to prescriptions, EMS overdose transports, drug treatment, and prescription drug-related youth removals.

  • In 2010, there were 249 prescription drug related deaths. At $2,890 per autopsy, the estimated cost comes to $1,349,630. [1]
  • In 2010, 153 newborns were addicted to prescription drugs. At an estimated $20,000 per newborn in neonatal intensive care costs, the cost totals $3,060,000. If using the previous Department of Justice estimates of $250,000 per child in their first few years, the total becomes $38,250,000 [2]
  • According to All Children’s Hospital, it cost $4,718 a day to medically treat an opiate addicted infant. This accounts for 20% of the population with an average length of stay of 35.6 days – $141,540 a month.[3]
  • From October 2009 through September 2011, overdose transports totaled 4,454. Using a conservative estimate of 50% being prescription-related based on emergency room overdoses and deaths (2,227 transports); the total transport costs come out to $1,200,420 using the base rate of $539.03. This estimate does not include mileage charges of $12.18 per mile or premium transports at $921.[4]
  • From July 2010 through June 2011, 1,267 Pinellas residents were treated for prescription drugs through Central Florida Behavioral Health Network subcontracts. Of these, 1,219 were adults costing $2,260,286 and 48 were children costing $166,121.42. Total adult and child prescription treatment costs were $2,426,408.[5]
  • In Pinellas from September 2010 through February 2012, 422 youth were removed from their homes due to their parents prescription drug misuse and abuse. 127 of these youth were placed in foster care. The estimated cost to the system totals $2,731,380.[6]


Special thanks to Pinellas County Department of Justice & Consumer Services, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Healthy Start Coalition, Eckerd Community Alternatives, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and Central Florida Behavioral Health Network for helping to put this information together.


[1] District 6 Medical Examiner Office

[2] Agency for Healthcare Administration and
Department of Juvenile Justice

[3] All Children’s Hospital

[4] Pinellas Public Safety Services

[5] Central Florida Behavioral Health Network

[6] Eckerd Community Alternatives

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