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Published: Saturday, 10/2/2010

Ohio task force aims to reduce abuse of painkillers

ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS - A state task force on Friday recommended updating laws, increasing education, and improving disposal of prescription drugs as ways to reduce painkiller abuse in Ohio.

In a report sent to Gov. Ted Strickland, the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force also encouraged state lawmakers to boost law enforcement's capacity to investigate and prosecute prescription drug abuse cases.

Deaths from accidental drug overdoses - many of them blamed on prescription painkillers - are the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, surpassing car crashes.

Mr. Strickland created the task force in April, citing a growing health emergency. He ordered the task force to come up with public health, law enforcement, legislative, and other strategies to combat the problem.

At the time, he made $250,000 in federal grants available to police to expand efforts to combat painkiller abuse. He also urged doctors and pharmacists to make more use of a statewide computer system to track suspicious prescriptions.

The task force made a similar suggestion in its report. It said the Ohio General Assembly should consider requiring professional licensing boards to develop rules outlining when pharmacists and other prescribers should use the system.

Richard Ellison, head of the Ohio State Medical Association, said the group supported bolstering regulatory boards' and law enforcement's ability to tackle drug abuse. But he urged lawmakers to avoid passing new rules that might be an administrative burden on doctors.

The task force made 20 recommendations. One was for the state's public health department to write guidelines for disposal of leftover or unused medicines.

Other recommendations included:

•Better coordination and data collection on drug abuse.

•Increasing awareness of prescription-drug misuse throughout the state.

•Implementing standards for pain-management clinics.

•Exploring funding sources to encourage the use of treatment programs for addicts.



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