"We have an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the state of Ohio," Governor Ted Strickland said.
Prescription drug abuse may be at an all-time high, but the Strickland says not enough Ohio doctors and other health care professionals are using an on-line database to help stop the abuse.
Cleveland pharmacist Joe Sheliga relies on the database constantly. "It gives you the information on whether you should fill a prescription," Sheliga said.
The system provides detailed prescription information on a patient and shows whether the patient has been pill-shopping.
Governor Strickland and some in drug rehabilitation believe it should be mandatory to check the database before narcotics could be prescribed or filled.
Only about 13 percent of the licensed Ohio doctors, nurses and others are signed up to use the database, or about 5,700 out of 43,000.
Zach, a 23-year-old painkiller abuser, said he lost everything that was important to him.
"I also wrecked vehicles multiple times, just falling asleep while driving, " Zach told the Investigator Tom Meyer.
Another narcotics abuser "Justin" said he spent $70,000 in one year to feed his drug habit.
"I got it all off the streets. People got their prescriptions and then sold them," he said.
At the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office, a check of records found the painkillers methadone and oxycodone were commonly found in the bodies of deceased individuals.
"We get quite a bit of prescription drug abuse here," Coroner Dr. Frank Miller said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol recently seized 900 painkiller pills during a traffic stop.
Also, federal agents charged local dentist Michael Kwong and his assistant, Jakob Kelley, on charges they illegally sold highly addictive prescription painkillers.
"This case illustrates the availability of prescription narcotics in northern Ohio," Cleveland FBI boss Frank Figliuzzi said,
Governor Strickland appointed a task force to develop a strategic plan to battle the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
Among the many items under consideration would be to make it mandatory to check the database before a doctor could write a prescription or a pharmacist could fill it.
Ohio is one of 34 states with the prescription monitoring program which can be accessed only by authorized users, such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and law enforcement officers.