The state of Tennessee is adding restrictions to opioid prescriptions and measures to track and punish unlawful distribution of the powerful pain medications.
Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills and issued an executive order last Friday to support TN Together, the latest effort to fight the opioid crisis, WBIR reported, citing a press release from Haslam’s office.
TN Together focuses on prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
The legislation seeks to prevent opioid addiction, and misuse and abuse by limiting the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions with an emphasis on new patients, according a statement on the governor’s office’s website. Initial prescriptions will be limited to a 5-day supply with daily dosage limits (40 MME or “morphine milligram equivalent”).
Higher dosages of opioids have been associated with higher risk of overdose and death while proving ineffective at reducing pain over the long term. The legislation also addresses appropriate exceptions, including exceptions for individuals undergoing active or palliative cancer treatment or who are receiving hospice care for chronic pain.
The second bill will better track, monitor and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of opioids by adding synthetic versions of fentanyl to the controlled substance schedules, among other updates, WBIR said.
The 2018-2019 budget sets aside more than $25 million in state and federal funds for treatment and recovery services for people with opioid use disorder, the governor’s office said. The legislation provides incentives for offenders in correctional facilities to complete intensive substance use treatment programs while incarcerated. These evidence-based programs are proven to reduce recidivism and improve lives while saving taxpayer dollars, the governor’s office said.
The opioid crisis is hitting Tennessee hard, the governor’s office said.
Each day in the state, at least three people die from an opioid-related overdose, which is more than the number of daily traffic fatalities. Since 1999, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths nationwide, including prescription opioids and heroin, has quadrupled. Tennessee is no exception to this epidemic. While progress is being made through the state’s Prescription for Success and Prescription Safety Act, Tennessee remains in the top 15 of all states in drug overdose deaths, and each year, more opioid prescriptions are written than there are people living in Tennessee, with more than 1 million prescriptions left over.
More details on TN Together and resources for those suffering from addiction are at tn.gov/opiods.