ODH E-Newsletter Opiate Items – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018

 National Safety Council Says Ohio Among 13 States and D.C. Adequately Addressing Opioid Crisis

The National Safety Council reports that Ohio is among 13 states and Washington, D.C. that “have implemented comprehensive, proven actions to eliminate opioid overdoses and help protect their residents.” Council experts conducted an extensive review of current literature, state legislation and data to create a comprehensive report on the status of the opioid crisis. The report evaluates each state’s progress in fighting the opioid epidemic based on the number of six key actions achieved: Mandating prescriber education; implementing opioid prescribing guidelines; integrating prescription drug monitoring programs into clinical settings; improving data collection and sharing; treating opioid overdose; and increasing availability of opioid use disorder treatment. “While we see some states improving, we still have too many that need to wake up to this crisis,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. Read more details about the report here.

 ODH Awards State Funding to Local Organizations to Start or Expand Project DAWN Programs

The 2018-19 state budget contains an additional $2 million to increase access to naloxone in Ohio by starting or expanding community-based Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) programs. ODH has begun awarding funding to local organizations across Ohio to start or expand Project DAWN programs to help save the lives of people overdosing on opioids. Expanding access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone is one part of Ohio’s comprehensive approach to combatting opioid abuse and overdose deaths. Project DAWN is a community-based program that offers naloxone kits and education to people who use drugs and their family and friends to administer in the event of an opioid overdose until first responders arrive. ODH provides seed funding and technical expertise for communities to start or expand Project DAWN programs. Ohio’s Project DAWN programs collectively distributed more than 19,000 naloxone kits in 2017 which were used to reverse at least 1,400 opioid overdoses. “The use of naloxone as quickly as possible is critical to saving lives during all opioid overdoses – but especially during overdoses involving fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs since they can kill quickly,” said ODH Director Lance Himes. “Having a family member or friend administer naloxone while waiting on first responders to arrive could mean the difference between life and death.” More information about Project DAWN is available on the ODH website here.

 ODH Awards State Funding to Ohio Coroners for Toxicology Screenings During Drug Overdose Investigations

ODH has awarded county coroners from across Ohio a combined $500,000 in state funding to help subsidize a portion of the cost of toxicology screenings conducted during coroner investigations of suspected drug overdose deaths. The state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 contains a total of $2 million to be distributed by ODH to Ohio coroners during the next two years in proportion to the numbers of toxicology screenings performed per county. Coroners send blood samples to a clinical laboratory for testing to identify the type and amount of drugs in a person’s body to help determine cause of death. “Drug overdose death data provided by county coroners to the state helps inform Ohio’s comprehensive and aggressive approach to combatting drug overdoses and saving lives,” said ODH Director Lance Himes. “This funding for coroners is part of more than $1 billion that Ohio is investing each year to help communities battle the scourge of drug abuse and addiction at the local level.” To receive funding, coroners must provide ODH with data on a quarterly basis about the number of toxicology screenings performed.

Opioid Prescribing in Ohio Down Nearly 30 Percent in 2017, According to Pharmacy Board Report

Opioids prescribed to Ohio patients declined for a fifth consecutive year in 2017, according to a recently released report from the State Board of Pharmacy’s Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS). Between 2012 and 2017, the total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 225 million doses or 28.4 percent. The report also noted an 88 percent decrease in the number of people engaged in the practice of doctor shopping since 2012. Additionally, the use of OARRS continues to break records, with more than 88 million patient reports requested in 2017 – an increase of 4,900 percent since 2011.  “Ohio has one of the most comprehensive and aggressive approaches in the country to tackling the opioid epidemic,” said State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steven Schierholt. “Through improvements to OARRS, new prescribing rules and guidelines, shuttering pill mills and aggressive regulatory action against unscrupulous prescribers, the state is making considerable progress in reducing the supply of prescription opioids and other controlled substances that can be abused or diverted.” Established in 2006, OARRS collects information on all outpatient prescriptions for controlled substances and one non-controlled substance (gabapentin) 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 during active drug-related investigations. “It is widely accepted that prescription opioid abuse often progresses to the use of heroin and other illicit drugs. That is why Ohio’s efforts to reduce exposure to prescription opioids are essential to combatting this public health crisis,” said Tracy Plouck, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. An executive summary of the OARRS report can be accessed here, the complete 2017 OARRS Annual Report here, and updated county-level data here.


  • The Ohio Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio Anthem BlueCross/BlueShield and Working Partners, recently unveiled a new Employer Opioid Toolkit Employer Opioid Toolkit. The toolkit includes informational resources and materials to help Ohio business owners prevent and manage workplace risks associated with the opioid epidemic.

State officials announce new campaign against opioid abuse (Toledo Blade)

No cure yet: Prescription opiate overdoses drop in Ohio, but public health officials warn epidemic is evolving (Akron Beacon Journal)

Franklin County coroner’s office reports concerning surge of opioid-related deaths (Columbus Dispatch)

Health department getting more naloxone kits (Findlay Courier)

State to help fund Hamilton County overdose death investigations (WCPO-TV/Cincinnati)

Did You Know: Children of parents who talk to their teens about drugs are up to 50% less likely to use. Start the conversation: StartTalking.Ohio.Gov

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