Opioid Prescriptions Continued Decline In 2019

September 16, 2020

The number of opioids dispensed to patients in Ohio dropped again in 2019, falling to just over half the total of 2012.

It was the seventh consecutive year the total of doses dispensed has fallen, according to a report by the State Board of Pharmacy using data from the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.

There were 415 million solid doses of opioids dispensed in 2019, down from 468 million in 2018 and a high of 793 million in 2012, according to the data.

The number of opioid prescriptions dispensed was 7.6 million, down from 8 million in 2018 and 12.6 million in 2012.

"Ohio has cut the number of opioids in circulation by nearly half from its peak in 2012," Pharmacy Board Executive Director Steven Schierholt said in a statement. "Ohio's commitment to working with our prescriber community to encourage safe opioid prescribing is clearly having an impact that will hopefully prevent individuals from misusing these medications in the first place."

The Pharmacy Board said the number of providers using OARRS is continuing to grow, with more than 240 million patient reports requested by prescribers and pharmacists.

"In October 2019, the average daily number of patient requests per month exceeded 1 million for the first time on record. This figure demonstrates the board's ongoing commitment to ensuring easy access to vital data to help Ohio prescribers and pharmacists better care for their patients," Mr. Schierholt wrote in the report.

The data show 2019 saw a slight increase in the number of people engaged in doctor shopping behavior – 255 compared to 238 the year before – but the figure is still down 88% from the peak of 2,205 in 2011.

The number of benzodiazepine solid doses dispensed to Ohio patients dropped again to 181 million, from 197 million in 2018 and 297 million in 2012, the report found. Benzodiazepine prescriptions totaled 3.29 million, down from 4.9 million in 2013.

Stimulant doses dispensed were 125 million in 2019, a figure that has been relatively consistent since 2017 and has risen since 2012.

It was also the first year that the board tracked naltrexone prescriptions for opioid dependence, with 4,367 prescribers dispensing or furnishing the drug to 19,600 patients.