Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) released a statement in response to the latest report by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) regarding drug overdose deaths in Ohio.

The ODH report indicates that Ohio has seen a major increase in drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl, an opiate that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. With fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths increasing from 84 in 2013 to 502 in 2014, fentanyl contributed significantly to the overall rise in drug overdose deaths in Ohio from 2,110 to 2,482 over the same period of time.

At the same time, Ohio has made progress in the abuse of opiate prescriptions. The number of opiate prescriptions dispensed in Ohio in 2014 decreased by 40 million doses compared to 2013. Additionally, the number of individuals “doctor shopping” for controlled substances decreased from 3,100 in 2009 to 960 in 2014.

In response to this news, Rep. Sprague said:

“To counter the increase in overdose deaths, the House recently passed HB 4, which makes the overdose reversal drug Naloxone widely available in the state.  Also, I have introduced HB 248, which requires insurance coverage for abuse-deterrent opiate painkillers, and HB 249, the Good Samaritan Law, which would allow people to save someone else’s life during an overdose without being prosecuted for minor drug possession.  All of these bills will save lives in Ohio. 


However, in order to actually reduce the number of overdoses, we need to tackle the problem further upstream – prevent people from becoming addicted to opioids in the first place.  We took the first step last year by shutting down doctor shopping for opioids in Ohio.  This and other initiatives are bearing fruit by slowly beginning to reduce the massive amount of prescription painkillers being dispensed from our medical system.  Our next step is to require prior-authorization to ensure that it is medically necessary to continue a narcotics prescription, which would reduce over-prescribing in our state.  We have introduced legislation to accomplish this, HB 250.“

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