Ohio prescription drug monitoring program showing positive outcomes

By Nick Trego, BWC Clinical Operations Manager

Established in 2006, the Ohio Automated RX Reporting System (OARRS) is Ohio’s state wide prescription drug monitoring program. OARRS collects information on all controlled substance prescriptions written by Ohio licensed prescribers and dispensed by pharmacies across the state.

The OARRS data base can be accessed by pharmacists, prescribers and law enforcement. Pharmacists use the database to review all controlled substance prescriptions being taken by a patient. OARRS allows the pharmacist to see the details of those prescriptions for an individual patient.

Prescribers access the database to ensure the appropriate treatment for patients and to assess compliance with prescribed medication regimens.

Law enforcement officials can review OARRS reports when legal issues emerge surrounding controlled substance use.

The OARRS database promotes the use of best practices when prescribing opioids, benzodiazepines and other medications that can have dangerous side effects if used inappropriately.

A recent report published by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy on opioid prescribing between 2012 and 2016 shows encouraging outcomes including:

  • 4% (162 million dose) decrease in the total number of opioids doses dispensed
  • 20% (2.5 million) decrease in number of opioid prescriptions
  • 5% (43 million) decrease in the total number of benzodiazepine doses dispensed
  • 2% decrease in the number of individuals who see multiple prescribers to obtain controlled substances illicitly (“doctor shopping”)
  • 11 million requests for OARRS reports in 2016

Ohio BWC statistics, likewise, show a decline in opioid prescribing over the same time period. During this period BWC has encouraged the use of best clinical practice guidelines and a state of the art closed formulary to provide medication management. Ohio BWC is the first state agency to establish a prior authorization (PA) process where clinical nursing staff reviews each medication request. The successes of the closed formulary, best practice guidelines and clinical nursing staff PA processes are listed below:

  • 5% decrease in opioid doses achieved by BWC
  • With less than 1% of the opioids receiving population in Ohio, BWC accounted for 9% of the reported decline in doses dispensed

These statistics leave no doubt that the OARRS database is having a positive influence on prescribing and dispensing controlled substances. Increased safety to patients in the state of Ohio and reducing the chances for opioid/benzodiazepine abuse and misuse are valuable benefits provided by OARRS.

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