Opioid Prescriptions Drop Drastically In Ohio

By Kelly Burch 03/18/19

Ohio's prescription drug monitoring program played a major role in the state's success. 

woman talking to doctor about prescription opioids

In Ohio, a state that has been ravaged by opioid addiction, the number of opioid prescriptions has decreased by 41% since 2012, according to new data. 

“We all have a role to play in battling this public health crisis, and this continued downward trend in opioid prescriptions demonstrates that Ohio’s prescribers are making significant progress in their efforts to prevent addiction,” Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement reported by 13 ABC News.

“When this crisis first emerged, prescribers were led to believe that opioids were not addictive, but we know today that is not the case. It is encouraging to see such substantial progress to limit opioid prescriptions to stop painkiller abuse and diversion.”

The data was drawn from the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, which monitors prescriptions being written and filled. The reporting system also showed that "doctor shopping" had decreased dramatically in the state—down 89% last year alone. 

Steven Schierholt, executive director of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, told the Sandusky Register last year that the prescription reporting system is an important part of monitoring the drug crisis. 

“In order to fight our way out of this issue, we have to do so with the help of the prescribers,” he said. “There’s too much of a correlation between prescription drugs and illegal drug use to be ignored. Our goal is to provide physicians with the tools to be a part of the solution.”

The monitoring system was established in 2006, but in 2015 it became mandatory for prescribers to use it. 

“If you’re a prescriber you can check this system and see what controlled substance prescriptions a patient has been prescribed. That information makes for a better interact[ion] between pharmacy, doctor and patients,” Schierholt said. 

He added that part of the reason the Ohio prescription drug monitoring program has been so successful is because it is easy to use. 

“Now if you’re sitting with your physician she [can] see your [prescription] history with a click of button,” he said. “We know a doctor’s time is valuable and want to make it easy to check.”

However, some data suggests that prescription drug monitoring is no longer an effective way to reduce overdose deaths, since many people have turned to illicit opioids as prescription pills become harder to access. 

One study found that the opioid epidemic will continue to get worse if policy continues to focus only on prescription drug abuse. 

“This study demonstrates that initiatives focused on the prescription opioid supply are insufficient to bend the curve of opioid overdose deaths in the short and medium term,” said Dr. Marc Larochelle of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center in a press release. “We need policy, public health and health care delivery efforts to amplify harm reduction efforts and access to evidence-based treatment.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.