Ohio Named Best State at Monitoring Prescription Drugs, Still No Decrease in Overdoses

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The American Medical Association listed Ohio as the top state to monitor prescription drugs, a somewhat surprising recognition in light of Ohio's drug problem.

Ohio processed more than 24 million queries from doctors and health professionals using the Board of Pharmacy's Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS), and the AMA used this data to conclude that Ohio is superior at monitoring prescription drugs.

OARRS, which was instituted to help the state battle widespread addiction problems, allows pharmacists to access prescribing histories in Ohio and border states with similar systems. Gov. Kasich ordered the system to be directly integrated into electronic medical records and pharmacy systems, allowing instant access for prescribers.

Despite the strict regulation of prescription drugs, overdose deaths in Ohio continue to climb. In 2016, more than 4,149 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses. The death toll represents a 36 percent increase from 2015, The Dispatch reports.

While heroin plays a large role in fatalities, opioids are largely to blame for a spike in drug-related deaths. Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 50 times stronger than morphine, was responsible for 400 deaths in Cuyahoga County from Nov. 2015 to Dec. 2016.

And those numbers aren't letting up.

Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County's medical examiner, expects nearly 600 deaths this year.

"The opiate crisis is a slow-moving mass-fatality event that occurred last year, is occurring again this year and will occur again next year," Gilson told a U.S. Senate committee.

Most recently, at least 13 people in Cuyahoga County died over Memorial Day weekend due to suspected drug overdoses. Of those 13, six were from Cleveland, Fox 8 reports.

While OARRS helps pharmacists regulate their distribution of prescription drugs, it is not keeping opioids off the streets, nor is it solving the drug crisis.

As Scene has reported, Ohio's drug problem is multifaceted. Explore more sides of the issue below:
-Addicts lack access to treatment facilities.
-Animal tranquilizers have a huge presence in the heroin market.
-Devastated families are losing hope.




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