The legislation proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam in January became law this week and sets a high bar for patients to meet before doctors resort to prescription painkillers known to lead to addiction.
Dave Chaney, vice president with the Tennessee Medical Association, said his organization worked to help shape the law into something that prevents further addiction, while keeping the drugs accessible to those who need them.
“There are stricter-now parameters on that initial prescription that prescribers, that doctors and other health-care providers who prescribe these medications must follow,” said Chaney, “in terms of the initial limits, when it’s written, how it’s filled and the checks and balances they have to do in the controlled-substances database. “
Chaney said his organization has worked to educate member physicians in recent years on when to prescribe opioids and when there may be non-addictive alternatives. He said the state also must invest in addiction treatment and law enforcement.
Just as the state has model legislation to curb the opioid epidemic, it also has demonstrated progress in decreasing prescriptions for the addictive drugs. A report released this month from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science found a 21 percent drop in opioid prescriptions in the Volunteer State since 2013.
Chaney said it’s proof awareness is growing among the medical profession.
“Many of them did get that way from that initial prescription, so 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,” said Chaney.
In 2017, Tennesseans filled 6.7 million prescriptions for opioids. The state has more demonstrated success than neighboring states and is in line with a national trend of decreased prescriptions.