Opioid Prescriptions Continue to Decline in Ohio

Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio

The number of opioid pills dispensed in Ohio dropped 20% from 2012-16, a recently released report found (Source: “Opioid Prescriptions, Number of Pills Dispensed Declining in Ohio,” (Lorain) Morning Journal, February 5, 2017).

According to the report from the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, a prescription monitoring program operated by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the number of pills dispensed has declined for the past four years after peaking in 2012 at 793 million pills. The number dispensed dipped to 631 million in 2016. Opioid prescriptions written in the state also peaked in 2012 at 12.6 million and have decreased each of the following four years. The number of prescriptions dropped to 10.1 million in 2016, a 20.4% decrease since 2012. The total number of “doctor shoppers” in Ohio has decreased over the past several years as well. Doctor shopping is defined as “an individual receiving a prescription for a controlled substance from five or more prescribers in one calendar month.”

Ohio passed legislation in 2011 cracking down on pill mills, doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies prescribing and dispensing pills inappropriately or for nonmedical reasons. Despite the crackdown, Ohio’s opioid overdose deaths increased since the bill was put into place, with heroin (and increasingly fentanyl) becoming the leading contributors.

The year Ohio legislators passed that bill was the last year natural and semisynthetic opioids (oxycodone and hydrocodone) were the state’s leading cause of opioid overdose deaths. Natural/semisynthetic overdose deaths decreased from 582 in 2011 to 499 in 2012. In 2012, heroin surpassed natural and semisynthetic opioids for the leading cause of overdose deaths. Heroin accounted for 438 overdose deaths in 2011, rocketing to 1,208 in 2014.

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