Gov. Haslam announces 7-step prescription drug plan

Gov. Haslam announces 7-step prescription drug plan

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6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - Major changes are on the way to tackle the prescription drug abuse problem in Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Douglas Varney are unveiling a seven-step plan to fight prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.

The state estimates 69,000 people in the state are addicted to prescription drugs, and nearly 221,000 Tennesseans have used prescription pain relievers for non-medical purposes..

The governor says prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem throughout Tennessee. The latest plan dubbed "Prescription for Success" aims to cut down the number of people addicted to pills and offer more treatment to those already addicted.

"In Tennessee, we have a problem with prescription drug abuse, and it's going to take all of us working together to tackle it," said Gov. Haslam.

Haslam says about one in every 20 adults in Tennessee have abused prescription drugs. The governor's strategic plan focuses on bringing down that number down along with the number of people who overdose.  

According to the strategic plan, a way to make that happen is by unifying drug overdose reporting to make them more reliable. The plan also outlines enacting a Good Samaritan law.

"If you, for example, are with a group of people and you go into a coma or pass out, they can actually call EMTs or law enforcement or someone there to help and they wouldn't be prosecuted," said Commissioner Varney.

Varney's department worked with several other state agencies to come up with the multi-year plan to fight abuse and treat addiction in the state.

The seven steps as outlined by the plan:
  1. Decrease the number of Tennesseans that abuse controlled substances.
  2. Decrease the number of Tennesseans who overdose on controlled substances.
  3. Decrease the amount of controlled substances dispensed in Tennessee.
  4. Increase access to drug disposal outlets in Tennessee.
  5. Increase access and quality of early intervention, treatment and recovery services.
  6. Expand collaborations and coordination among state agencies.
  7. Expand collaboration and coordination with other states.
More online: Full “Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee” report

The strategic plan will work in conjunction with a bill passed in the general assembly this session that limits the amount of pseudoephrine purchases that can be bought without a prescription. Oak Ridge State Senator Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, is a retired hospital pharmacist and co-sponsored the bill in the Senate.

"I've seen the devastating effects of drug abuse in the hospital and in the emergency room, and also as a legislator as the chair of the finance committee, the enormous cost to the state that it incurs," said McNally.

Previous story: Tenn. House OKs watered-down anti-meth bill

Haslam's administration has been in the midst of an initiative to set tighter limits on cold and allergy medicines used to make meth.
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