The number of prescription opioids dispensed to Ohioans declined for the sixth consecutive year in 2018, according to a newly released report from the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).

According to the report,  the number of opioids doses dispensed in Adams County fell from 111 per person in 2012 to 78.

Opioids include narcotics intended to manage pain from surgery, injury, or illness. They can create a euphoric effect, which makes beneficiaries vulnerable to opioid abuse and misuse (i.e., taking opioids in a way other than prescribed)

From 2012 to 2018, the total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 325 million doses or 41 percent. During the same period, the total number of opioid prescriptions issued to Ohioans decreased by 4.6 million.

In 2018, Adams County was ranked by the United States Department of Health and Human Services as having the highest percentage of Medicaid beneficiaries who received opioids in Ohio.

The report also finds prescribers and pharmacists utilizing OARRS at record levels. In 2018, more than 142 million patient reports were requested by healthcare providers. With such expanded use of the system, the number of Ohioans engaging in doctor shopping behavior decreased by 89 percent last year.

Adams County’s neighboring county, Scioto County home to what many call the “ground zero of the opioid crisis,” doses dispensed fell from 8.1 million, or 101 per person, in 2012, to 5.4 million, or 68 per person, in 2018.

“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,” said Governor DeWine. “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.”

In 2016, more than 42,000 opioid-related overdose deaths occurred in the United States 115 deaths per day.

Ohio’s initiatives include education campaigns to prevent opioid abuse, requirements for prescribers and pharmacies to routinely check the State’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program when prescribing or dispensing opioids, and licensure of pain management clinics to reduce pill mills.

OARRS, Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program collects information on all outpatient prescriptions for controlled substances and two non-controlled substances (gabapentin and naltrexone) dispensed by Ohio licensed pharmacies and personally furnished by Ohio prescribers. OARRS data is available to prescribers when they treat patients, pharmacists when presented with prescriptions from patients and law enforcement officers and regulatory agencies during active investigations.

“The Board is proud of the advances it has made to increase the use of OARRS to promote responsible prescribing and improved patient outcomes,” said State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steven W. Schierholt. “Since implementing the first statewide integration program in the nation, more than 41,000 pharmacists and prescribers have instant access to OARRS as part of their workflow.”


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