Pubdate: Mon, 12 Feb 2018
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Randy Ludlow


Ohio's drug overdose deaths rose 39 percent -- the third-largest
increase among the states -- between mid-2016 and mid-2017, according
to new federal figures.

The state's opioid crisis continued to explode in the first half of
last year, with 5,232 Ohio overdose deaths recorded in the 12 months
ending June 31, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The death toll increased by 1,469 or 39 percent, which trailed only
the 43.4-percent hike in Pennsylvania and 39.4-percent increase
recorded in Florida. Ohio's total number of dead also only fell behind
Florida (5,540) and Pennsylvania (5,443).

The escalation of drug deaths in Ohio was nearly three times the
14.4-percent increase in deaths nationally, which grew to 66,972
across the U.S., according to provisional numbers.

The federal report noted that the 5,232 drug OD deaths in Ohio
accounted for 4.3 percent of all deaths in the state and warned the
numbers likely are under reported due to incomplete reporting.

The state reports spending about $1 billion a year, much of it in
Medicaid spending to treat the drug-addicted working poor, to battle
the opioid crisis, but critics say much more must be done.

Limits on prescriptions have reduced deaths by prescribed opioid
painkillers to a six-year low and heroin deaths have leveled off, but
the deaths caused by the more-deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl
continue to spiral.

The state also is moving to impose new regulations that would require
drug distributors to halt and report suspicious orders of opioids.

Marcie Seidel, the executive director of the Prevention Action
Alliance, an Ohio nonprofit that seeks to prevent substance abuse,
said the CDC data confirmed her "worst fears."

"This is the worst public health crisis of our times, and we need to
have a coordinated response to it from the top down," Seidel said.

Annual federal figures had shown drug overdoses, largely from opioids,
killed 4,329 people in Ohio in 2016, a 24 percent increase over 2015
and the second-highest death rate in the nation.

Many officials expect the 2017 annual total to be even higher, as
evidenced by the new mid-year federal figures. Coroner's figures
showed 383 overdose deaths in Franklin County in the first nine months
of last year, exceeding the 353 deaths recorded in all of 2016.
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MAP posted-by: Matt