New HHS opioid report finds evidence of opioid over-prescription in Ohio

A new HHS Inspector General report released Tuesday found nearly 50 health care providers in Ohio prescribed highly addictive opioids to at-risk Medicaid beneficiaries during a year-long period that ended in May 2017.

A new HHS Inspector General report released Tuesday found nearly 50 health care providers in Ohio prescribed highly addictive opioids to at-risk Medicaid beneficiaries during a year-long period that ended in May 2017. The report also found nearly 5,000 Medicaid recipients in Ohio getting large amounts of the drugs without cancer or hospice care diagnoses. It found more than 700 who appeared to be in serious danger of misusing or overdosing on the drugs. "Despite Ohio's successes, opioid issues continue to persist," said Lisa Minich, an Inspector General's office analyst who noted that slightly more than 40,000 Ohio children on Medicaid were prescribed opioids during the year. The study found 708 beneficiaries in Ohio were at serious risk of opioid misuse or overdose. It found that 481 of them got extreme amounts of opioids, and 231 appeared to be doctor shopping by obtaining large amounts of opioids from multiple prescribers and pharmacies. Four were in both groups. The report said Ohio's steps to fight doctor shopping, such as requiring pharmacists to check beneficiaries' prescription drug history, has reduced doctor shopping by 78% from 2012 to 2016, but some are still getting through. The Inspector General's office studied potential problems in Ohio because it is among the states most severely affected by the opioid crisis, with nearly 3,500 overdose deaths in 2016.