Family affected by drug overdose seeks change to pain pill bill

Family affected by drug overdose seeks change to pain pill bill

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By SAMANTHA SARACINO
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Tennessee lawmakers are discussing a bill that would expand prescription monitoring in the hopes of curbing the prescription pill epidemic. House Bill 2391 is hoping to cut down on doctor shopping. The bill would require doctors to search a database before writing a prescription.

Jessica Akhrass says if narcotic prescriptions were regulated by doctors, her 22-year-old brother Addison Sharp may still be around.

"Addison being the fourth of his friends to die from a prescription drug overdose, it becomes apparent that this is an epidemic. People are dying everyday and I truly don't want this to happen to anyone else," Akhrass said.

That's why she proposed an amendment to House Bill 2391. As it stands, doctors would have to reference a database before writing a prescription.

"They're going to be forced to check the database, which is a good thing. The doctors that it means something to will say 'Oh, there's someone who has three prescriptions from someone else. I won't prescribe to them.' Other doctors will check it because they have to, see they have three other prescriptions and write them one anyway."

With her proposed amendment, the quantity of narcotics prescribed at one time would also be regulated. "If you give them 30 days worth instead of 120 days worth then they don't have that many to sell," explained Akhrass.

One of the only current regulations is at pharmacies with the controlled substance monitoring database. "It will come up with their usage of narcotics for the past year. Then you determine if they've had it recently or not," said Camilla Frost, a pharmacist at Volunteer Pharmacy.

Pharmacists say it's a step in the right direction, but it's not the solution. "You get a lot of doctor shoppers that way. People hopping around from different doctors to different pharmacies, you can catch that," said Chad Frost, pharmacist at Volunteer Pharmacy.

Unfortunately, Akhrass' amendment did not get attached to the bill, but she says she won't give up.

"Addison is gone and I can't do anything about that but I can try to prevent it from happening to someone else. I will start over next year and do what I can do."

House Bill 2391 hasn't been presented yet to the House or the Senate.

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