© 2022 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Your Voice Ohio is a collaborative effort to produce more relevant, powerful journalism based on the needs and ambitions of Ohioans and Ohio communities. Your Voice Ohio is an initiative of WYSO and more than 30 news organizations across Ohio.

State Pharmacy Board To Launch Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program

State officials have enacted new regulations to curb what they say is overprescribing of opioid painkiller medications to patients who may not really need them

Ohio’s opioid crisis continues to escalate. In an effort to curb the epidemic, the state is launching a new program designed to help spot criminal activity and prescription drug abuse.


Since 2006, Ohio has been collecting information on all prescriptions for controlled substances, including those prescribed by doctors and those dispensed by pharmacies. The data is tracked in the so-called Automated Rx Reporting System, also known as OARRS.

Now, with the help of a nearly $400,000 two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, state pharmacy board experts will begin analyzing OARRS prescription-drug data.  


Pharmacy board Director of Policy and Communications, Cameron McNamee, says the goal is to identify patterns of criminal activity and ultimately prevent addicts from ending up in the criminal justice system.


“We’ll utilyze that data to look for individuals who may be engaged in what we call doctor shopping, people that see multiple providers, prescribers to try and obtain drugs, identify these individuals and then work with local law enforcement and treatment providers to try and intervene," he says.

McNamee says OARRS has received a lot of support from Ohio legislators, including Gov. John Kasich. He says the system allows drug courts, coroners, hospitals, doctors and other health-care providers access to the same information.

"In this fragmented healthcare system that we find ourselves in, if you leave the Mercy Health healthcare system, the records stop there and so [doctors] don't know who patients are seeing to get other drugs."

The state’s intervention program is based on a similar one in Nevada that’s widely seen as successful at curbing criminal activity related to drug abuse and getting more people into treatment.



The Ohio pharmacy board will have access to the federal funds beginning October 1, 2017. Officials hope to have the program fully implemented sometime in November.


The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Listen to the full interview with Cameron McNamee here.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.