LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Lee County Sheriff's Office says the drug known as "purple drank" is more popular in other areas of the country, but it is keeping an eye on it here in Southwest Florida.
"Kids are using it, and they know about it. There are numerous rap songs about it," says Matt LeClair, with the Special Investigations Division. "If you are able to get into certain club scenes or private parties, you might see smaller amounts of it passed around."
Also called "the purple" or "sizzurp", it's a mixture of promethazine and codeine cough syrup, soda, and jolly ranchers.
In a routine traffic stop Friday, the sheriff's office arrested Ashlee Anderson, 30, in North Fort Myers with 10 pints of the drug, which has a street value of about $8,000. Investigators also found several falsified prescriptions in the Orlando man's car.
"He was going all around our area and other areas, passing prescriptions and getting pints at a time," says LeClair.
A pint in itself can be hard to come by. Many local pharmacies don't even carry the cough syrup.
John Armitstead, Assistant Director with Lee Memorial Health System's Pharmacy Services, says it would not be unusual to have one pint in stock for an entire hospital.
"It is a substance of abuse, which means we would like to have it controlled in the pharmacy," says Armitstead. "It's not generally available throughout the rest of the stock."
Armitstead says because other drugs work better for a cough, most doctors feel safer steering clear of the highly addictive substance.
"It has resulted in deaths," he says. "One of the most sorry things we see is when patients get admitted to our hospital or our system abusing drugs."