Ohio Saw Record Surge In Opioid Overdose Deaths Last Year

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(WOUB) — Deaths from opioid overdoses hit a record high in Ohio last year.

During the three months of the second quarter, the overdose death rate statewide was 11.01 per 100,000 population, according to an analysis by the state’s Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education (SCOPE).

This was higher than at any point since the start of the opioid epidemic.

Ohio’s Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education (SCOPE) finds
the opioid overdose death rate in the second quarter of 2020 was the highest it has been in 10 years. [Ohio Attorney General]
The counties with the highest death rates were concentrated in southern Ohio. Scioto County led the state with 35.22 deaths per 100,000, more than three times the statewide average.

The five counties with the highest opioid death rates also included:

  • Fayette County at No. 2 with 20.67 deaths per 100,000;
  • Franklin County at No. 3 with 19.43 deaths per 100,000;
  • Gallia County at No. 4 with 19.4 deaths per 100,000; and
  • Ross County at No. 5 with 19.22 deaths per 100,000.

This sharp rise in overdose deaths came after Ohio had seen a significant drop in its opioid-related death rate. During the 24 months leading up to last year’s second quarter, the death rate had fallen to between six and eight per 100,000.

The surge in opioid deaths coincided with the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the nation.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that while much of the public attention is focused on the coronavirus, opioid addiction continues to wreak havoc on families.

“This is alarming data, and while COVID has rightly captured our attention, we cannot lose sight of the threat the opioid epidemic brings to all areas of Ohio,” he said.

Yost said that he has joined a coalition of attorneys general from around the country who are asking for more clarification about what federal regulators are doing to help fight opioid abuse.

In 2018, Congress granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration additional authority to address the crisis. The coalition of attorneys general is asking for a progress report from the agency on what steps it has taken and plans to take with regard to efforts such as safer opioid packaging and disposal features, research and issuance of new regulations on non-addictive alternatives to opioids and guidelines for opioid prescribing.