According to Governor's Opiate Action Team, the number of opioid prescriptions are decreasing in the state of Ohio.

However, despite this, prescription opioids still are a major contributor to unintentional drug overdose in the state of Ohio, which continues to rise.

Prescription opiates continue to be a huge public health issue in Ohio.

In response to the best practice opiate prescribing guidelines created by the State of Ohio, Akron General Partners Physician Group (PPG) created a Chronic Opiate Management Policy, which was put into effect in April of last year.

The main components of this policy include running OARRS (Ohio Automated RX Reporting System) reports on appropriate patients, providing patient education on the risks and benefits of long-term treatment of pain with opioids, having patients sign Opiate Treatment Agreements, appropriately screening patients before starting an opioid, and subjecting patients to random urine or saliva drug screens to ensure compliance.

In a study of 59 PPG providers representing 8 specialties (family practice, internal medicine, surgery, rheumatology, urgent care, gynecology, cardiology, gastroenterology) utilizing a common electronic medical record, the number of opioid prescriptions written by this group of providers decreased 21 percent in the last six months.

This is likely due to providers being more aware of the guidelines and being more judicious in the prescribing of this potentially dangerous drug class.

Review of the OARRS reports helps to identify “doctor-shoppers” or patients receiving controlled medications from more than one provider.

The drug screens help to confirm patients are compliant with their meds (and not potentially “diverting” them) as well as identifying patients who need to be referred for treatment of substance abuse or drug addiction.

More patients are also being referred to pain management specialists. It is also likely some patients are being weaned off their opioids altogether and placed on alternative medications such as anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants or anti-seizure drugs which have pain-reducing properties.

the Opiate Action Team also released stricter prescribing guidelines to Ohio doctors. The new guidelines recommend non-opioid treatment options when possible and limiting the amount of opioids used to treat acute pain where appropriate.

The message is getting through to physicians.

The number of opioid doses dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by almost 42 million from 2012 to 2014.

The number of patients prescribed opioid doses higher than chronic pain guidelines recommend to ensure patient safety decreased by 11 percent from the last quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2015.