Home Law There’s good and bad news about the opioid epidemic

There’s good and bad news about the opioid epidemic

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Ramon Montalvo was indicted last month for Heroin trafficking. Photo via Columbus PD. Photo right via Wikimedia Commons.

Even though one of the largest heroin dealers in Columbus was recently arrested, the Ohio Department of Health reports increasing overdose deaths and fentanyl use.

The good news is that a man called “the biggest heroin dealer in Columbus” was arrested last month and that prescription opioid overdose deaths are the lowest they have been since 2009.  The bad news is that overdose deaths and fentanyl use continue to climb.

First, the good news. Ramon Montalvo, known as “Mole Face,” was indicted last month. Montalvo had been accused of smuggling kilos of heroin from Nayarit, Mexico into Columbus. Prosecutors seized a litany of items from his home — from guns to cocaine — at the time of his arrest. Prosecutors also arrested four other men thought to have been involved with Montalvo’s drug smuggling.

“Whenever you can get a multi kilo distribution group in jail and out of business, it’s a great accomplishment,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told Fox 28 last month.

The Ohio Department of Health reported in their 2016 Ohio Drug Overdose Report released this fall that prescription opioid related deaths are the lowest they have been since 2009.

In 2015, there were 667 prescription related opioid deaths in the state of Ohio. In 2016, that number was down to 564, a 15.4 percent decrease.

Since 2012, the number of opioids given out to patients decreased by 162 million doses, or around a 20 percent decrease.

“This progress is significant because prescription opioid abuse is frequently a gateway to heroin and fentanyl use later on”, said Dr. Mark Hurst, interim director of the Ohio Department of Health.  

Now onto the bad news. The number of overdoses increased from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 in 2016. That is around a 33 percent increase in overdose deaths in the span of one year.  

Drug overdose deaths due to the drug fentanyl, an opioid around 50 times more powerful than heroin, have more than doubled from 2015 to 2016.  In 2015, there were 1,155 deaths. In 2016 this number had jumped to 2,357 deaths.  This brings deaths due to fentanyl up to 58.2 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in Ohio in 2016, making it the number one drug responsible for opioid overdose deaths.

Local representative Jay Edwards introduced “Daniel’s Law” to the Ohio House in March to combat opioid abuse.

House Bill 167… would limit the dosage of prescription opioids for acute pain that physicians can prescribe. This would require physicians to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that suggest limiting the number of pain pills prescribed to a three-to-seven day supply unless the physician offered an alternative treatment program. – The New Political, March 30, 2017 

On a state level, Ohio continues to invest money each year towards solving this opioid crisis.  The Ohio Department of Health estimates that around $1 billion is invested statewide each year to combat opioid abuse.  

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