Ohio Pharmacies’ Role In The Opioid Epidemic

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 10, 2022

A judge has ordered pharmacies to pay Ohio counties millions in the latest Ohio opioid crisis news, and the state continues to take steps to heal. Although opioid addiction isn’t curable, it is treatable through proper care.

In August, an Ohio judge ruled that three of the nation’s biggest pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart) must pay $650 million for their role in the Ohio opioid epidemic.

The money will go to Ohio’s Lake and Trumbull counties. The counties won a 2021 lawsuit against the pharmacies over the way they distributed opioids in their communities. 

Attorneys for the two counties put the bill at $3.3 billion in damages during the opioid crisis, which resulted in almost half a million deaths in the U.S. between 1999 and 2019. 

Opioid Settlements By Other Pharmacies

On the same day as the Ohio judge’s ruling, pharmacy Endo International settled a lawsuit with several states, agreeing to pay $450 million over 10 years.

Major chains Rite Aid and Giant Eagle came to Ohio opioid settlements with the two counties before the trial in August. Those settlement amounts have not been released.

Pharmacies’ Role In Opioid Use And Misuse

As prescription drug distributors, a pharmacy’s role in helping to ensure patient safety is not passive.

One recent study found that the average American visits their pharmacist a whopping 775% more than they do their doctor.

The same study found that pharmacists are the second-most trusted resource for health information, behind only doctors.

Prescription drug monitoring programs could go a long way in helping pharmacies and doctors monitor the rate at which drugs are being prescribed and distributed.

Ohio Opioid Epidemic: Prevalence And Statistics

Opioid use disorder and opioid overdose deaths have both risen sharply in the U.S. over the last two decades. Statistics show that Ohio has been hit particularly hard.

In fact, the Ohio opioid crisis is so serious that it has been called “ground zero” in the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Opioid Deaths In Ohio

In 2015, there were more fatal opioid overdoses in Ohio than in any other state, with 3,050 deaths reported. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the peak of the crisis.

During a three-month period in 2020, more people in Ohio died from an opioid overdose than at any other time during the opioid crisis, according to the Ohio attorney general.

The death rate from opioid overdose at that time was 11.01 per 100,000 Ohioans. Between 2007 and 2020, 38,868 people in Ohio died from an opioid overdose. 

Prescription Opioids And Heroin In Ohio

In Ohio, heroin was responsible for 46.7% of overdose deaths in 2015, while prescription opioids were responsible for 21.9%. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 80% of Americans who use heroin say they misused prescription opioids first.

This strong link between the two suggests that the role prescription opioids play in Ohio’s opioid epidemic is probably even greater than it seems.

Ohio Opioid Laws

Several initiatives have been passed since the opioid crisis began to help protect Ohioans from opioid misuse.

The state has put many resources in place and taken many steps to open the opioid conversation and find lasting solutions.

Here are a few recent Ohio opioid laws and regulations: 

  • Senate Bill 319: limits the number of opioids a pharmacist can provide to a patient
  • Senate Bill 30: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine declares August 31 “Ohio Overdose Awareness Day” 
  • House Bill 314: requires a signed consent form for prescribing controlled substances containing opioids to minors in non-emergency situations
  • Ohio Administrative Code 4731-11: the State Medical Board of Ohio establishes safety checkpoints for prescribing opioids for long-term pain

Treatment Options For Opioid Use Disorder

Although the opioid crisis has affected a large number of people in Ohio and across the U.S., there isn’t one single treatment plan that works for everyone.

Individualized care, offering a variety of therapies and programs, is essential for a full recovery and long-term success.

Behavioral Therapy

Opioid addiction has an impact on every aspect of a person’s life. Behavioral therapy helps establish new habits that provide a foundation for recovery. 

Through psychotherapy, also called “talk therapy,” these evidence-based addiction practices help speed recovery and provide lasting results.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

It’s not uncommon for people with opioid addiction to require medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during their recovery.

With detox, withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and medications can help ease the process by lowering dependence on and lessening cravings for opioids.

Medication can also help with co-occurring mental health disorders, something that’s common in addiction.

Residential Or Day Programs

Some people benefit from residential treatment programs to recover from opioid addiction. These programs provide 24/7 care and support and span a period of weeks.

A variety of therapy-related programs and activities are provided, including individual and group therapy, along with adequate outdoor time and personal time. 

Day programs are less intensive, with about five to seven days of therapy and other treatment sessions at a facility per week. 

Long-Term Support

Due to the severity of opioid addiction, long-term support is typically required for successful treatment.

This can come in the form of support from mentors who are on the path of recovery themselves and from continued therapy or aftercare support

Find Treatment For Opioid Addiction In Ohio

If you or a loved one is living with an opioid addiction, help is available. 

Personalized care is the hallmark of treatment at Ohio Recovery Center. We offer medical detox and a wide range of residential and day programs to meet each client’s unique needs.

Call our helpline today to learn more about your options for recovery.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Understanding the Epidemic https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
  2. Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy – Pharmacists Role in Preventing Drug Abuse https://nsuworks.nova.edu/hpd_corx_stuarticles/7/
  3. Ohio.gov – Factsheet: Ohio’s Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Monitoring of Opioid Use https://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region5/51900036_Factsheet.pdf
  4. Ohio State University Extension – Opioid Epidemic in Ohio – Extension in Action https://extension.osu.edu/about/resources/opioid-epidemic-ohio-%E2%80%93-extension-action
  5. Ohio University’s Patton College of Education – HB 367 Opioid Abuse Prevention: A Module for Teachers and Teacher Candidates https://www.ohio.edu/education/sites/ohio.edu.education/files/sites/education/counseling-higher-education/files/OHIO%20GEH%20Center%20ODHE%20Module%20Opioid%20Education.pdf
  6. Public Broadcasting Service – Judge says pharmacies owe 2 Ohio counties $650 million in opioids suit https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/judge-says-pharmacies-owe-2-ohio-counties-650-million-in-opioids-suit

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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