$53M allocated in U.S. as overdoses hit record high in state
by Tom Troy -- Blade Staff Writer
Ohio will receive nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under new programs created to face down the epidemic of opioid misuse and overdoses, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said Wednesday.
And U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) joined with Walgreens representatives in Toledo on Wednesday to unveil new medication disposal stations. Mr. Portman said the steel deposit boxes were permitted under the newly passed anti-addiction legislation he co-authored in the Senate.
The funds come from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ohio will receive a total of $1,998,455 out of $53 million allocated nationwide.
“This is welcome news, of course. Any additional resources are a help,” Miss Kaptur said. “But this is an epidemic, and it’s getting worse, based on what I have been told by medical professionals and law enforcement officials in northern Ohio. Everyone acknowledges this isn’t enough — everyone except the Republicans in Congress, that is.”
According to data released last week by the Ohio Department of Health, opioid overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio in 2015, more than a third of them from fentanyl, a super-potent opiate often mixed with heroin.
In Lucas County, 113 people died of heroin or other opioid overdoses in 2015.
Mr. Portman visited the Walgreens at Secor Road and Monroe Street. He said unused narcotics have “high street value” and can contribute to the start of addiction.
He said prior to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act signed this year by President Obama, unused and surplus prescription medications could only be collected under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The new law allows retailers, like Walgreens, to collect unused meds by using a DEA-approved vendor.
Mr. Portman said the comprehensive addiction act increased anti-opioid funding by $181 million, or 47 percent.
“I would support even more funding than that, including emergency funding, because this is an emergency,” he said.
Of the two programs highlighted by Miss Kaptur, one is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of sharing medications and work with pharmaceutical and medical communities on the risks of overprescribing.
The other program, administered by the CDC, aims to improve toxicology, and drug screening while also funding studies of overdose death rates. State officials can use the money to enhance prescription drug monitoring programs, identify doctors who aren’t following good practices and patients who are doctor-shopping, and promote strategies for safe prescribing practices, Miss Kaptur said.