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Opioid prescriptions continued to decline in Ohio in 2016, report says

Good news in fight against heroin
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Posted at 2:32 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 05:03:27-05

CINCINNATI – Good news in the war against heroin:

Opioid prescriptions in Ohio declined for the fourth straight year in 2016, according to a report from the State Board of  Pharmacy's Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).

Here's why this is significant: Research suggests that abuse of prescription opioid pain medications such as Oxycontin and Vicodin may open the door to heroin abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Here are some findings in the OARRS report for the past five years (2012-2016):

  • The total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased 20.4 percent - from  793 million doses to 631 million doses.
  • The number of opioid prescriptions decreased 20 percent.
  • The number of people engaged in the practice of doctor shopping decreased 78.2 percent.

Additionally, the use of OARRS continued to increase, reaching an all-time high of 24.11 million requests in 2016.

"The report highlights the state's continued efforts to promote best practices when treating patients with prescription opioids,” said Steven W. Schierholt, executive director of the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. "I am confident  that such best practices, including the use of OARRS, will further decrease opioid prescribing and expose fewer Ohioans to these potentially addictive medications.” 

RELATED: Cincinnati saw fewer heroin deaths in 2016

Established in 2006, OARRS is the only statewide database that collects information on all prescriptions for controlled substances that are dispensed by pharmacies and personally furnished by licensed prescribers in Ohio. OARRS data is available to prescribers when they treat patients, pharmacists when presented with prescriptions from patients and law enforcement officers during active drug investigations.

"Ohio has one of the most comprehensive approaches  to address the responsible prescribing of opioid pain relievers," said Tracy Plouck, director of  the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. "The progress shown in these data illustrate that our partnership with prescribers is helping to reduce opportunities for prescription opioid misuse and addiction."

SEE WCPO's complete coverage of Heroin in the Tri-State.