At a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse, State Representatives Dave Burke (R-Marysville) and Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) today unveiled a proposal to combat prescription drug abuse by strengthening oversight measures and using technology to reduce the widespread prevalence of “pill mills.”

House Bill 93 will enhance the current Ohio Automated Rx Review System (OARRS), which was established in 2006 to assist health care professionals in identifying drug-seeking behaviors, to provide additional oversight. It will also limit prescribers’ ability to personally furnish certain controlled substances, enact Medicaid reforms to improve consumer education and allow for better care coordination, improve licensing and law enforcement for pain-management clinics, and develop a statewide prescription drug “take-back” program.

“My colleague, who is a physician, and I, as a pharmacist, have addressed a key problem in our state not as strong handed legislators, but caring health care professionals with the oath to improve lives,” Burke said. “This bill closes the loop-holes caused by rogue prescribers and pill mill operations that kill four Ohioans a day. The time for talk has ended and the time for action has begun.”

“Since 2002, half or more of the autopsies that I ordered in my role as Scioto County Coroner revealed deaths caused directly or indirectly by drugs,” said Johnson. “I found that, overwhelmingly, these overdoses were due to prescription medications. My statistics have been used by our local and state health departments to highlight the true extent of this tragic epidemic. This is truly a scourge that knows no socioeconomic or ethnic boundaries. It impacts all of us as a state and, sadly, many of us personally. It’s time to start fighting back, and this bill is a strong first step.”

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country and the second-most common form of illicit drug abuse among teenagers in the U.S., second only to marijuana.

In Ohio, unintentional drug overdoses surpassed motor vehicle crashes and suicide as the leading cause of injury death in Ohio. It has also been reported that the highest rates in the state for these deaths are in southern Ohio, where seven of the 10 counties with the highest death rates are located.

“I applaud Representatives Burke and Johnson for their efforts to address this issue that has run rampant throughout the state,” said Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina), who has signed on to cosponsor the bill. “It is vital for the Ohio House to move swiftly on this legislation so we can curtail the scores of injury and death that result from prescription drug abuse.”

House Bill 93 will now be assigned to a House committee, where it will undergo further consideration.


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