New legislation goes into effect to crack down on pill mills

New legislation goes into effect to crack down on pill mills

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By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - With the start of the New Year new laws are on the books in Tennessee aimed at helping authorities fight the epidemic of prescription pill addiction.

Many of these rules focus on pain clinics. When they cross to the wrong side of the law they're dubbed pill mills.

The term "pill mill" is often used to describe a clinic or pharmacy where prescribing or dispensing powerful narcotics is done inappropriately or for non-medical reasons.

There are many legitimate health care providers, but it seems to state lawmakers that more and more pill mills are popping up in Tennessee.

State Rep. Ryan Haynes says the majority of pill mills used to be in Florida, but new laws cracking down on the illegal activity has caused the pill mills to move North.

Now lawmakers in East Tennessee are trying to stop the overprescribing of powerful narcotics.

Roane County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tim Phillips has been in law enforcement for 18 years. He says 80 percent of the crimes are now drug-related and many deal with prescription pills.

"With this pill epidemic, it's probably the worst thing I've seen drug-wise since I've been in law enforcement. We are seeing more people abusing because it's easier to get. We're seeing more overdoses," said Phillips.

To put a stop to the pill epidemic lawmakers like Rep. Haynes are going after the source - pill mills.

Last year, lawmakers passed Senate Bill No. 2253. The law went into effect on January 1, 2013.

"It will now require all doctors who give prescriptions to monitor a prescription drug database to make sure people aren't out there shopping for prescriptions so they can get their hands on more pills," said Rep. Haynes.

Rep. Haynes says people are getting prescriptions from pill mills for 90 plus pills of powerful narcotics. Then, they are reselling the pills on the street for profit.

"Working on things that could perhaps limit the number of pills in a prescription, that's an idea that we're floating out there," he said.

Haynes says another new law now requires doctors who work at pain clinics to be there at least 20 percent of the time.

"What's happening is they open up multiple clinics and they can't even be there 20 percent of the time. We want to say you have to be there 50 percent of the time if it's a pain management clinic," said Rep. Haynes.

Chief Deputy Phillips says any change in legislation to help crack down on the pill mill operations will help the community.

He would also like to see stricter guidelines and harsher penalties for the doctors overprescribing.

"I think that could deter a lot of doctors to not do it," said Chief Deputy Phillips.

Rep. Haynes says lawmakers want to pass legislation to help law enforcement and the health department to shut down and take away licenses from pill mills.

Haynes says he has spoken with many legitimate doctors about stricter guidelines for prescribing powerful narcotics. He says many doctors support the measure in an effort to cut down on the epidemic.

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