In numbers provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) in 2009, 97,496 dosage units were purchased by physicians in Ohio, while Pennsylvania had 7,586; Indiana, 1,700; Michigan 180, and none in West Virginia or Kentucky.
Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams was asked why the disparity exists and why West Virginia and Kentucky show no numbers.
“I think that Oxycontin is the drug of choice specifically in our region,” Adams said. “It has such a high re-sale on the street. I think that’s a lot of it, and that it’s being diverted.”
In the same report, in physician-dispensed dosages of Oxycodone, Ohio again comes out on top with 969,302, while Pennsylvania doctors dispensed 244,771 dosage units; Kentucky 127,526; Indiana, 32,895; Michigan, 16,560; and West Virginia, 1,000.
Roberts said the increase in physician dispensing in Scioto County began in July 2008 when area pharmacies began backing off of filling prescriptions for controlled substances.
“They’re dispensing out of their offices, and that does not go through OARRS (Ohio Automated RX Reporting System),” Adams said.
Adams said prescription drug abuse has to be brought under control quickly because there is another drug on the horizon.
“In some places, we’re seeing heroin moving in and capturing that market because it’s cheaper,” Adams said. “In fact, that’s going on in some of the bigger cities now. Heroin is making a move in Columbus, I hear.”
Adams said the price of heroin is about a quarter of the cost of Oxycontin.
The Scioto County Prescription Drug Action Team will meet today from 9 to 11 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church at the corner of Fourth and Court streets in Portsmouth.
The group will look at a draft of recommendations to be presented to the state task force to eventually go before the state legislature for consideration in legislation to regulate pain clinics.
The Law Enforcement committee, of which Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner is a member, has made three recommendations, including wording calling for physician ownership, background checks and prohibiting ownership interests that have a felony record. Other recommendations include lowering the bulk amount of drugs for Schedule-3 and 4, permit law enforcement to require those in possession of drugs who are not in their original containers produce a valid prescription within 24 hours, and the enhancement of OARRS. There is also a request for additional funds for various law enforcement-related issues.
Recommendations were also made by the Public Health Committee, chaired by Adams, including the request for programs to decrease the availability and accessibility of unused prescription drugs in the home and the need for improvement and coordination of data collection related to prescription pain reliever misuse, abuse and overdose.
The Treatment Committee, under the leadership of Ed Hughes, director of the Scioto County Counseling Center, asks for an increase in the diversity of funding for alcohol and other drug addiction prevention and treatment services, and the Regulatory Committee calls for examination of the regulation of prescriber dispensing of controlled substances.
At today’s meeting, the Scioto County team will get a pain clinic update, discuss the National Drug “Take Back” Day, scheduled for Saturday, and two $15,000 grants from the Ohio Prescription Drug Grant program from the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, to defray expenses that a prescription drug investigation incurs in performing its functions related to the enforcement of the state’s prescription drug laws and other state laws related to illegal prescription drug activity.
Adams said he will not stop in the battle to stop the illegal flow of prescription drugs in Scioto County and Ohio.
“I am amazed at how this thing has evolved into such a monster,” Adams said. “And I am going to commit myself to this till hell freezes over.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org