Opioid prescribing in Ohio down nearly 30 percent

COLUMBUS — Opioids prescribed to Ohio patients declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2017, according to a newly 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 finds an 88 percent decrease in the amount 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 last year; or 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 W. 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.

The complete 2017 OARRS Annual Report can be accessed by visiting www.pharmacy.ohio.gov/OARRS2017. An executive summary of the report as well as county level data can be accessed at the same site.