Strategies and policies to address the opioid epidemic: A case study of Ohio

Jonathan Penm, Neil J. MacKinnon, Jill M. Boone, Antonio Ciaccia, Cameron McNamee, Erin L. Winstanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objective To describe the strategies and policies implemented in Ohio to improve opioid safety and to discuss the role that pharmacists can play in implementing, promoting, and enhancing the effectiveness of these policies. Setting Ohio has the fifth highest rate of drug overdose deaths (24.6 deaths per 100,000) in the United States. Unintentional drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury-related death in Ohio. In 2015, there were 3050 overdose deaths in Ohio, and in 2014 there were an estimated 12,847 overdose events reversed by emergency medical services with naloxone. Practice description Not applicable. Practice policy innovation In 2011, the Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team was created to implement a multifaceted strategy, in part (1) to promote the responsible use of opioids, (2) to reduce the supply of opioids, and (3) to support overdose prevention and expand access to naloxone. Innovations to assist these goals include the development of Ohio guidelines on the responsible use of opioids, mandatory use of Ohio's prescription drug monitoring program, closing pill mills, promotion of drug take-back programs and increased access to naloxone and public health campaigns. Evaluation Not applicable. Results Since the development of the Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team, there were 81 million fewer doses of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients in 2015 compared with 782 million doses dispensed in 2011. As such, the proportion of unintentional drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids has reduced from 45% in 2011 to 22% in 2015. Conclusion Strong political support was crucial in Ohio to facilitate the rapid implementation opioid overdose prevention programs and the promotion of public awareness campaigns. However, the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids are complex problems requiring a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. Pharmacists are identified as a crucial component of the state strategy to addressing opioid abuse by promoting responsible prescribing and adopting prevention practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S148-S153
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (nursing)
  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology


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