Ohio opioid crisis

Ohio's annual conference of behavioral health workers comes at an interesting time in the field. Though still burdened by the opioid epidemic, counties across the state say they’re heartened by Gov. Mike DeWine’s focus on mental health and recovery.

Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET

Federal prosecutors are charging 11 doctors with unlawfully distributing opioids and other substances, in the second large operation to target "pill mill" operators and health care fraud this year. Two other people also face charges in the sting.

"The alleged conduct resulted in the distribution of more than 17 million pills" in the Appalachian region, the Justice Department said.

Dave Yost
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

After taking heat for arguing the state should have a lead role in next month’s huge opioid trial in Cleveland, Ohio’s attorney general says he wants to be clear that he thinks any money won should be spent at the local level.

Dave Yost backed a bill that would have given his office control of more than a hundred lawsuits in that trial, saying individual cities and counties are litigating pieces of the state’s claims. But he stresses any verdict or settlement funds should go to foster care, law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders and treatment.

Drug maker Mallinckrodt has reached a $30 million settlement with two Northeast Ohio counties in a federal lawsuit over the opioid crisis.

Mallinckrodt has agreed in principle to pay $24 million in cash to Cuyahoga and Summit counties, plus $6 million in product, Cuyahoga County officials said Friday.

a photo of the winners of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge
DAN KONIK / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

University Hospitals and three small companies will be receiving $1 million each for products they created to help fight opioid abuse with technology.  

It’s the final stage of a state-sponsored contest to find new ways to use tech to battle opioid addiction.

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich are creating a nonprofit that will fight to steer cash from any national opioid settlement to hospitals, rather than to local and state governments already sparring for control of the dollars.

The federal judge overseeing thousands of opioid lawsuits appears poised to approve a pathway for resolving local government claims against the drug industry and dividing settlement dollars nationwide.  

“There has to be some vehicle to resolve these lawsuits,” U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster said during a Tuesday morning hearing in federal court in Cleveland.

Drug companies have not yet settled claims brought against them in federal court, but confidential settlement talks have continued since the start of the multi-district case.

U.S. overdose deaths last year likely fell for the first time in nearly three decades, preliminary numbers suggest.

A pharmaceutical distributor that was incorporated in Montgomery County, two of its former executives and two pharmacists are charged in what federal prosecutors say was a multi-million dollar conspiracy. U.S. District Attorney Ben Glassman says all of the defendants are charged with a single count of violating the controlled substances act.

Updated at 10:44 p.m. ET

For the first time, a federal court in Ohio is releasing a trove of data that offers far more detail about the size and scope of the nation's opioid epidemic — and about the role played by drug companies and pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Johnson & Johnson that profited from the rapid growth of prescription opioid sales.

Ohio Coroners Warn Of July Spike In Overdose Deaths

Jul 11, 2019

Ohio coroners are raising new warnings following a spike in drug overdose deaths.

More than 270 Ohio child welfare caseworkers and their support staff could soon be going on strike.

Narcan kit
AMANDA RABINOWITZ / WKSU

A new initiative in Green aims to prevent overdose deaths. The city was in the national spotlight in 2016 when a teenager overdosed in a hotel in Green.

Now, the city will equip several hotels with emergency NARCAN kits that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. While Green has seen declining numbers of overdoses in the past four years, a disproportionate percentage happen near the city’s three I-77 exits.

Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said more than half of overdoses in Green are transients.

Federal officials are charging 60 defendants across five states in what they're calling the largest opioid prescriber takedown ever. These are the first arrests announced since an opioid strike force began late last year.

photo of opioids
DIMITRIS KALOGEROPOYLOS / FLICKR

Federal money to fight the opioid crisis nearly doubled in the last two years, according to a national think tank’s new report analyzing that funding.  

photo of mercyhealth
GOOGLE EARTH

The state’s largest health system will be the official health care partner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), providing services at tournaments and championship events for the next three years. And the partnership goes beyond sports-related injuries.

needle and syringe
PSYCHONAUGHT / COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG

A new report by The Center for Community Solutions shows that programs that get used syringes off the streets in Ohio have more than doubled in the last three years.

Health Planning Chairperson at Community Solutions Melissa Federman said the addition of 10 new syringe service programs across the state is a response to the opioid epidemic.

photo of prescription pills
OADRXBI

Starting on July 1, the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation will no longer pay for a powerful painkiller that’s at the center of the opioid crisis in the Buckeye State. 

photo of Governor Mike DeWine and advocates fighting opioid abuse
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Gov. Mike DeWine and leaders of his program to fight opioid abuse in Ohio are meeting with local advocates to share ideas.

Leaders from opioid prevention, education and recovery groups throughout the state are telling DeWine they want the state to allow local providers to invest in programs that work for their communities.

“It’s a balance of culturally sensitive, locally driven, applicable to the community but at the same time, try to have something that is evidence based," DeWine said.  

photo of Dave Yost and Steve Dettelbach
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The attorney general is the state’s top cop, protecting Ohioans against shady business practices and against crime on the streets. And the new AG will be among the five new statewide executive officeholders who will take over in January.

Republican Dave Yost and Democrat Steve Dettelbach are both attorneys. And they both have a way with words - peppering their comments with colorful statements like: 

“I don’t think that dog hunts.”

Photo of Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray
TWITTER

The Republican and Democratic candidates for governor met for their second face-to-face debate, this time taking questions from an audience and via social media at Marietta College. 

Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

The Ohio Health Department puts the official death toll  last year from accidential drug overdoses at 4,854 people. That’s more than 13 people a day, and a 20 percent increase over 2016. But Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports Gov. John Kasich says there is good news in those numbers.

Federal Program Targets Lorain County Fentanyl Dealers

Jul 13, 2018
photo of substance found at drug bust that may be fentanyl
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Stemming the tide of drug overdose deaths in Lorain County and nine others across the country is the focus of a new pilot program from the U.S. Attorney General’s office.