COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – Scioto County, a rural Ohio county with about 79,000 residents that hugs the Ohio River, dispensed approximately 123 doses for every man, woman and child in the county last year, making it the center of a storm for unintentional drug overdoes, the leading cause of accidental deaths in Ohio.
Nearly two weeks ago new Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hired new staff, including Scioto County’s prosecutor, as his contribution to advancing the work started by former Gov. Ted Strickland in April of 2010.
The problem has escalated to the point where Ohio’s new Republican Gov. John Kasich, in Scioto County Monday with legislators and state officials including Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Director Orman Hall, announced his own prescription for treatment that includes a range of new resources to help Scioto County and Ohio better fight the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Among his remedies, a media release said Kasich named Betty Montgomery, a former two-term Auditor and Attorney General, as chief adviser to a new multi-agency coordinating effort whose resources include new funds for a Portsmouth drug treatment center and new access to advanced treatment methods.
A general outline of Montgomery’s duties provided by Kasich’s communication staff says she will serve as a liaison to the federal government, Attorney General DeWine, local law enforcement leaders, and other states “to help coordinate a more robust response to the problem and advise Kasich on the best strategies for tackling and winning the fight.”
The 9.7 million doses of prescription painkillers occurring in Scioto County has certainly caught the attention of current and former Ohio leaders like Strickland, whose own executive order set up a task force on the growing problem.
Kasich’s announcement detailed state resources aimed at the problem:
- $100,000 in state funds for a new treatment center at the Counseling Center, a private, non-profit drug treatment center in Portsmouth. $300,000 in additional federal funds is being sought;
- A new prescription drug addiction task force advised by Montgomery to work with state agencies, Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Supreme Court of Ohio, local law enforcement leaders, and other states;
- Kasich signed an emergency Executive Order to immediately amend existing rules to allow ODADAS treatment providers to utilize a comprehensive list of FDA-approved medication to assist in the treatment of opiate addiction.
The media release said he also supports an emergency clause for House Bill 93 sponsored by Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Rep. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), cosponsored by Rep. David Bubp (R-West Union) that establishes critical restrictions on unscrupulous pain clinics and limits excessive in-office prescribing.
Facts on the problem:
9.7 million doses of Rx painkillers were dispensed in Scioto County last year: 123 doses for the 79,000 men, women and children in the county. (Source: Ohio Board of Pharmacy, 2010)
Between 1999 and 2008, there was a 360 percent increase in accidental over-dose deaths in Scioto County; 92 percent of these deaths are due to prescription medications. (Source: Scioto County Rx Drug Action Team)
Oxycodone toxicity deaths in Scioto County have quadrupled in the past three years. The majority of these deaths occurred in the 25-35 year-old age groups. (Source: Scioto County Rx Drug Action Team)
Eighty-five percent of substance abuse treatment requests at the Scioto County Counseling Center are now for opiate addiction, marking a 300 percent increase in just the past three years. (Source: Scioto County Rx Drug Action Team)
Since 2007, unintentional drug overdoses have been the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. Fatal and non-fatal poisonings cost Ohioans $3.6 billion annually. (Source: Ohio Department of Health, “Burden of Poisoning in Ohio, 1999-2008”)
The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring (OSAM) Network reports a move from prescription painkillers to heroin among opiate abusers. Heroin is highly available in all regions of the state. (Source: ODADAS, OSAM Network, 2011)
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