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Record-Level OARRS Use by Prescribers, Pharmacists
Image of Governor Mike DeWine speaking at press conference.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steven Schierholt were joined today by U.S. Drug Czar Jim Carroll, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to announce that use of the Ohio system used to track prescriptions of controlled medications has now reached record levels.

The Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS), operated by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, allows doctors and pharmacists to access patients’ controlled substance prescription history to help them detect prescription drug abuse or diversion and intervene with high-risk patients.

Use of OARRS recently surpassed 1 million daily queries on two separate occasions, a milestone that aligns with data from the American Medical Association that ranks OARRS as the most utilized prescription drug monitoring program in the country.

“As the use of OARRS has increased, Ohio has not only seen a significant decrease in the number of individuals who ‘doctor shop’ by visiting multiple prescribers to obtain multiple prescriptions, but this system has also empowered doctors and pharmacists to be a part of Ohio’s efforts to prevent addiction,” said Governor DeWine. “Although it is impossible to know how many lives were saved thanks to use of the OARRS system, we do know that it has become an indispensable tool in Ohio’s work to help those suffering from addiction.”

According to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the number of individuals engaged in doctor shopping decreased by 89 percent between 2011 to 2018, and the total number of opioid prescriptions decreased by 4.6 million between 2012 and 2018.

U.S. Drug Czar Jim Carroll, who serves as President Trump’s chief advisor on drug policy, praised today’s announcement. Carroll is currently in Ohio to learn more about Governor DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative, which works to enhance mental health and substance use recovery, treatment, and prevention efforts throughout the state.

“Communities big and small across Ohio have been particularly hard hit by our nation’s drug crisis. As part of the Trump Administration’s whole-of-government approach, we’re partnering with true leaders like Governor DeWine to educate kids about the dangers of substance use, get more help to people struggling with an addiction, and reduce the availability of these deadly drugs. Because of our shared commitment to this issue, we’ve begun to see progress in saving more of our family members, friends, and neighbors both in Ohio and nationwide," said U.S. Drug Czar Jim Carroll. “It was great to be with Governor DeWine in the Buckeye State today to see the incredible efforts happening on the ground that are helping to build on this momentum. Our partnership with the Governor is an example of how the federal government can work together with state and local communities to be successful in achieving our ultimate goal of saving lives.”  

In 2016, Ohio became the first state in the country to offer, at no cost, direct integration of its prescription drug monitoring program into electronic health records and pharmacy dispensing systems. This integration is a primary factor contributing to Ohio’s record levels of OARRS use as it allows 43,000 prescribers and pharmacists to seamlessly access their patients’ OARRS reports as part of their regular workflow.

“Instead of logging into a separate system, OARRS integration allows Ohio’s healthcare providers to instantly access a patient’s controlled substance history with the click of a button,” Director Schierholt said.  “This gives prescribers and pharmacists more time to devote to patient care, including intervening with patients who may be misusing or abusing controlled substance medications.”

Overall use of the OARRS system currently averages approximately 834,000 weekday patient queries, as compared to around 65,000 weekday patient queries in 2015. By 2020, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy anticipates that average weekday patient queries will surpass a million inquiries per day.

Ohio’s OARRS integration was established through a partnership with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.