COLUMBUS, OHIO - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a leading advocate for combating prescription drug abuse, praised an Executive Order issued today by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland aimed at combating the growing problem of drug diversion, in which controlled substances are inappropriately obtained and sold, leading to widespread substance abuse and a growing number of deadly overdoses.
"As I've said from the beginning, we need to treat this problem like the dangerous epidemic it is. That means cooperation on a federal, state, and local level. I applaud Governor Strickland for addressing this dangerous situation which threatens the health of Ohioans and the fabric of our communities. Earlier this month, I held a first-of-its kind roundtable that convened the federal and state agencies that need to work together to tackle this problem. If we are going to root out the drug dealers and prevent addiction in our communities, then it will take neighbors and local leaders organizing their communities and pushing their government to fight back."
On March 25, Brown's office convened a first-of-its-kind roundtable that brought together federal officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and state officials from the Attorney General's office, Department of Health, and Department of Jobs and Family Services. Local law enforcement and judicial representatives also attended the meeting to share their first-hand experiences with this issue. The meeting was held at the PACAAR Medical Center at the Adena Hospital System in Chillicothe.
On March 1, Brown wrote to President Obama offering his support for the President's proposals to combat prescription drug fraud and Medicaid abuse. Sen. Brown asked for the President's help in stamping out prescription drug fraud in Ohio.
"In Southern Ohio, there is a disturbing pattern of drug diversion wherein individuals obtain controlled substances using their Medicaid cards and then sell these substances," Brown wrote in his March letter to President Obama. "This is not only a matter of crime; it is both a public health and fiscal issue."
The illegal use of controlled substances is an epidemic across the country and Ohio is no exception, particularly in southern Ohio. Southern Ohio is struggling with high unemployment rates and limited resources to address these types of problems.
Quick Facts on Prescription Drug Abuse in Ohio:
- On average, more than three (3.6) people die each day in Ohio due to drug?related poisoning.
- According to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there has been a 141 percent increase in the number of admissions for substance abuse treatment for prescription opioids (pain medications) in Ohio from 1998 to 2006 - from 1,140 in 1998 to 2,746 in 2006.
- From 1999 to 2007, Ohio's death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings increased more than 300 percent, largely due to prescription drug overdoses.
- In Ohio, there were 327 fatal unintentional drug overdoses in 1999 growing to 1,351 annual deaths annually in 2007. In 2007, unintentional drug poisoning became the leading cause of injury death in Ohio, surpassing motor vehicle crashes and suicide for the first time on record.
- Prescription opioids (pain medications) are associated with more overdoses than any other prescription or illegal drug- including cocaine and heroin- and are largely responsible for this alarming increase in drug poisoning death rates.
- Opioids were involved in at least 37 percent of all poisoning deaths in the Ohio in 2007.
- The opioids most associated with overdose are methadone, oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin®), hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin®) and fentanyl. Other opioids such as(,) morphine, meperidine (Demerol®) and hydromorphone (Dilaudid®) also play a role.
Sen. Brown has conducted more than 140 roundtables across Ohio, and Medicaid prescription drug abuse is brought up consistently as an issue plaguing Southern Ohio communities.