Doctors, drug councelors, appear happy with Tenn. opioid crisis response

May 1, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The medical community in Tennessee is reacting favorably to the opioid response legislation passed during the just ended session of the State Assembly.

Dave Chaney with the Tennessee Medical Association says the state’s doctors feel the legislation strikes the right balance between reigning in the number of pain prescriptions written and ensuring continued access to pain meds for Tennesseans with chronic pain.

"There are stricter-now parameters on that initial prescription that prescribers, that doctors and other health-care providers who prescribe these medications must follow."

In 2017 there were more pain killer prescriptions written than in Tennessee than there are people. However, David Chaney notes a recent study by the Institute for Human Data Science shows pain prescriptions have fallen by 21 percent statewide since 2013.

“The medical community has actually been working for many years to turn back that dial, and we can see now just in the last five years that dramatic drop."

Mary-Linden Salter with the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and other Addiction Services says her members are also generally happy with the opioid legislation. But she does note that the new state funding won’t be enough to provide all the treatment beds needed.

“An additional $25 million (in state treatment funding)? I haven’t set down and done the math but, you know, we’re edging towards fifty-percent of the population that needs treatment would actually have access.”

Democrats unsuccessfully proposed an increase of $250 million in state funding for opioid treatment, ten times what the legislature ultimately approved.