Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has joined a coalition of attorneys general across the country in asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to release a progress report on the opioid epidemic.
The coalition of attorneys general from 44 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, asks FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn for clarification on how the agency plans to use powers granted under the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act), as well as asks for additional information that will reduce opioid abuse and death.
The coalition is spearheaded by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.
“While dealing with a worldwide pandemic, we are still fighting an opioid epidemic that continues to wreak havoc,” Yost said in a statement. “I am committed to using all the tools available to combat opioid addictions and save lives.”
Ohio has seen a massive surge in opioid abuse, with more Ohio residents dying from an opioid overdose during a three-month period last year than any time since the epidemic of abuse again, according to data from a task force within the attorney general’s office.
The task force found that the death rate in Ohio from opioid overdose was 11.01 per 100,000 population in the second quarter of 2020 — the highest rate in 10 years. That number outpaces the previous 10-year high, which was seen in the first quarter of 2017 at 10.87 opioid overdoses per 100,000 population.
According to data from the force, 67 percent of counties in Ohio saw an increase in overdose deaths, with the hardest-hit counties in the second quarter including Scioto, Fayette and Franklin counties.
“Opioid overdoses might have taken a backseat in our minds last year because of COVID-19, but make no mistake: Ohioans are dying at a devastating rate because of opioid overdoses,” Yost said.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.