Columbus, OH – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today received the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force's (OPDATF) final report, which includes 20 recommendations to the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly. This report outlines significant steps toward addressing the issue of prescription drug abuse on a statewide level.
Prescription drug abuse is a rising public health problem on the national level and has reached epidemic level in Ohio. Ohio's death rate due to unintentional drug poisoning has increased more than 350 percent from 1999 to 2008, and is now the leading cause of injury death in Ohio.
"Prescription drug abuse is a menace that must be fought with every available tool. Over the last decade, the number of Ohioans dying from drug poisoning has quadrupled. I created this Task Force to assist law enforcement, public health officials, and law-makers in our efforts to protect Ohioans from the scourge of prescription drug abuse," Governor Ted Strickland said.
"I want to thank the Task Force for its collaborative, thoughtful approach to addressing this epidemic. We will move quickly to work with the legislature to adopt recommendations that will help combat prescription drug abuse, including implementing standards for pain management clinics, working with providers to improve the use of the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, establishing and supporting local coalitions, and exploring ways to support critical drug and alcohol treatment services for Ohioans."
In order to ensure the state's approach is both multifaceted and comprehensive, the 20 recommendations address issues related to treatment, law enforcement, public health and regulation. Recommendations include legislative reform, increased funding and education, facilitating proper disposal of prescription medication, as well as establishing new and supporting existing coalitions to address the prevention of prescription drug misuse, abuse and overdose.
"On behalf of the Task Force, I am pleased to submit this report to Governor Strickland," said George T. Maier, Chairman of the Task Force and Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. "The Task Force's recommendations preserve a necessary balance between prevention, treatment, law enforcement, legislative needs, education needs and policy changes and are the first steps in addressing this issue from each of these critical perspectives."
Ohio has already taken steps that align with some of the Task Force's recommendations: the State previously set aside $250,000 in Justice Assistance Grants to assist local law enforcement with funding to investigate and prosecute cases involving prescription drug abuse, and the state conducted a prescription medication drop-off in collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Over the past six months, the Task Force convened 10 full meetings and 15 Work Group meetings. Members from a diverse group of professional backgrounds and perspectives worked together to develop a report of recommendations to address Ohio's complex prescription drug abuse epidemic. These recommendations reflect hours of discussion and debate and represent the consensus of the members of the Task Force.
"An average of four Ohioans die each day from a prescription drug related overdose," said Alvin D. Jackson M.D. Vice Chairman of Task Force and Director of the Ohio Department of Health. "These recommendations provide Governor Strickland and Ohio's legislators with solutions that will help to combat this epidemic and reduce the tragic statistics."