Federal report shows scope of Ohio prescription abuse


MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - As the opioid epidemic continues to have a tight hold on Ohio, the federal government has released new numbers that show just how deep addition is in the state.

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services exposed hundreds of people for "doctor shopping", and nearly 50 doctors are being eyed for over-prescribing. State and federal agencies are concerned with fraud, abuse and misuse, and one patient was even found to be getting 59 prescriptions in a year.

"We are the last stop," Paige, who works as a pharmacist, said, "because once it comes through me, there's no more checks."

"But we're not the only ones responsible when something goes wrong," she continued.

Pharmacists have been on the front lines when it comes to fighting the opioid epidemic, but Paige knows when to say no.

"They like to say, 'Well, the doctor wrote it so you have to fill it'," she said, "but that's not the case."

A federal report revealed new numbers and zeroed in on Medicaid subscribers. It found that nearly 5,000 patients in Ohio have received high amounts of opioids, and hundreds are at risk for addition or overdose.

Nearly 500 patients have received amounts more than two and a half times the CDC recommended dose, which is a tell-tale sign of misuse. Paige told FOX 45's Shavon Anderson some of the common excuses people give are that they're going out of town or that they need to pay cash.

The report also identified 231 patients as "doctor shoppers", including in one cast, where a patient got 41 opioid prescriptions from 16 doctors, filling them at 8 different pharmacies, and in another case, driving up to 2 hours away.

Pharmacists use a system to check prescription history, but it doesn't stop doctors from writing them.

"Columbus or Cleveland, a doctor far away is a big red flag," Paige said.

The report, which just showed 2016 to 2017 numbers, identified 50 problem doctors. In a 6-year period, the state has taken action against more than 200.

"We actually have a license on the line," she said. "We have a responsibility. We can get in trouble, and patients don't understand that."

Clark and Miami were ranked as having some of the highest rates of opioid prescriptions.

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