Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) 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.

“The latest data from the Ohio Department of Health illustrate the scale of the opiate epidemic in Ohio. These numbers serve as a sobering reminder of the importance of aggressively fighting back against opiate abuse. However, the data also shows that progress is being made in key areas, such as the decrease of total dispensed opiate prescriptions across the state.

I am encouraged to see legislation passed by the General Assembly having an impact on curbing prescription drug abuse. A bill that I sponsored last year that requires prescribers to utilize the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System has allowed prescribers to work in unison with one another to ensure that patients are not jumping from doctor to doctor in order to get more painkillers. It is our duty as state legislators to continue working to stem the tide of drug overdose deaths and find ways to keep Ohioans alive and on the path to treatment.”

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