Ohio gets new prescription drug abuse task force

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PORTSMOUTH (AP) — Gov. John Kasich’s plan to tackle prescription drug abuse includes a new task force advised by a former attorney general, extra funding for a treatment center in a heavily affected county and an executive order to let the state’s local treatment partners use new medications to help treat opiate addiction.

Drug overdoses have topped car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio since 2007. The most recent data from the state shows more than 1,300 people in Ohio died from accidental drug overdoses in 2009.

Kasich on Monday announced the new efforts to battle prescription drug abuse in southern Ohio’s troubled Scioto County after meeting with treatment officials and lawmakers. Kasich’s office says 9.7 million doses of prescription painkillers were given out in Scioto County last year – the equivalent of 123 doses for each resident.

Email newsletter signup

Officials believe people in Scioto County “are ready, willing and able to l aunch this battle, to win this war on prescription drugs,” Kasich said, according to The Portsmouth Daily Times.

“We believe if we can win it in Scioto County, then we can spread it throughout all of Ohio,” he said. “If we can make gains in Ohio, this will allow us to be engaged nationally. Failure is not an option in Scioto County.”

His announcement included $100,000 in state money for a new halfway house and outpatient treatment facility at the private, nonprofit Counseling Center in Portsmouth, the county seat. That’s in addition to $300,000 in federal funds that officials are seeking.

Kasich’s visit to the city came nearly two weeks after he tapped one of the state’s most respected politicians, Republican Betty Montgomery, to work on the issue of prescription drug abuse.

Montgomery, the former state attorney general and auditor, will advise the new task force and be a liaison to local, state and federal agencies on the issue, as well as to other s tates.

The group will include state health and safety officials, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine and youth and corrections agencies, according to the governor’s office.

Kasich also signed an emergency executive order aimed at expanding treatment options by letting certain treatment providers use a list of medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help treat people addicted to opiates.