Combatting Ohio's Opioid Addiction
Guest Column from State Representative Andy Thompson
December 21, 2016
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With the year coming to a close and many things on the docket to complete, one of the most urgent was the passage of Senate Bill 319. Our homes and families have been ravaged by the epidemic that has gripped Ohio for the last few years: opioid addiction.  Last year, 3,050 people died from unintentional overdoses, the highest number on record for our state. This startling statistic along with the data from the last few years has placed Ohio at the top of the list for opioid related deaths. Ohio should be at the top of many lists, but not this one.

Senate Bill 319 will give pharmacy boards an increased ability to revoke the license of pharmacy personnel for abusive distribution of opioids and to require more detailed reports. A 2015 Ohio Department of Health report showed that one of the leading contributors to the opioid epidemic is the over-prescribing of opioid-based medication which leads to addiction.  S.B. 319 will provide greater accountability for pharmacies which will lead to a decrease in this destructive practice.

We care about the lives of all Ohioans, and therefore have sought to expand the availability and accessibility of naloxone, a counter-opioid overdose product, through Senate Bill 319. Pharmacists will be able to distribute naloxone to specific individuals, and supplies of the antidote will be stored at locations where at-risk individuals are likely to be.   The availability of this overdose-countering drug will lead to a reduction in the amount of overdose-related deaths and provide the patient with an opportunity to seek treatment.

I am pleased to have been a part of the passage of this bill. We will continue our fight together against the epidemic that has claimed too many precious lives.  I expect to see us gain ground in our war against opioids and hopefully see the health of our state improve in the near future. Please contact my office with any questions or concerns.

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