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Ohio board: Drug-tracking website use continues to improve

Use of a state website in Ohio that’s intended to help curb misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers continues to rise after an enforcement and education effort, according to data from the state Pharmacy Board.

Board spokesman Cameron McNamee told The Associated Press requests for patient information from the site hit an all-time daily high of 143,340 on Monday. That’s up from about 84,000 average daily checks before warning letters were issued to doctors, dentists and others in September and roughly 95,000 checks a day last month.

The website allows doctors to check patients’ drug histories before prescribing opioids.

Its creation by the administration of Republican Gov. John Kasich came as Ohio faces a drug overdose epidemic that’s been tied in part to the ease of access to prescription opioids. Accidental drug overdoses killed 3,050 people in Ohio last year, an average of eight per day, the state has reported. Over one-third of those deaths were related to the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

McNamee said that since last month, an additional 315 advanced practice registered nurses have established accounts, along with 717 doctors and dentists and 70 physician assistants. He said the state has also seen 1,348 new delegate accounts, representing people authorized to look up and print out drug history reports before doctors, dentists and others see patients.

“So we’re really happy with the response,” McNamee said. “I know there were some negative responses from some of the associations, but we’re really happy that the physicians, APRN’s and PA’s have really stepped up and are checking the system. Because we feel the more they check, the better it is for Ohioans and patient care.”

The Ohio State Medical Association representing physicians had criticized the state Medical Board for scaring and confusing many of its members with its approach to increasing use of the website.

The board sent stern letters to about 12,000 doctors, or roughly a third of physicians statewide, suggesting they had broken the law. Most of their infractions regarding the site were minor, representing technical glitches or failing to check the drug histories of a patient or two. The association said doctors are taking significant steps to address the opioid crisis.

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