Senator Jackson passes key opioid treatment and enforcement measure

Bill complements Haslam Administration legislative package


NASHVILLE — A critical measure in the fight to eradicate opioid addiction passed the General Assembly in the final days of the most recent legislative session. Sponsored by State Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson), Senate Bill 777 prevents over-prescription of addiction treatment drugs to ensure they’re used to treat addiction rather than perpetuate it.  The bill is one of many General Assembly initiatives that complement the Haslam administration’s comprehensive opioid legislative package, TN Together.

“Opioid addiction devastates our communities and our people,” said Sen. Jackson.  “Too many Tennesseans have fallen prey to this debilitating pandemic.  This legislation ensures effective treatment methods are utilized for those who are addicted to help them become drug free.”

The legislation places further restrictions on those prescribing buprenorphine, an opiate often used to treat addiction, requiring more facilities that prescribe the drug to be licensed.   The bill will require the dispensing of buprenorphine be submitted to the state’s controlled substance database and a top 20 list of prescribers will be generated.  The prescribers on the list will then be asked to justify their prescribing practices, and each board will be required to report any disciplinary action it may have taken toward the provider.  The legislation also calls for establishing protocols for initiating periodic prescriber-initiated and led discussions with patients regarding tapering down or off the opioids employed in treatment.

“The goal is to get the prescriber and the patient focused on a full recovery from addiction,” added Senator Jackson.  “That includes the drugs used to treat opiate addiction.  There are good treatment facilities that are already working toward that goal and are helping their patients get back into a normal life pattern while they wean off opiates.   However, there are others who perpetuate the problem by substituting one drug for another without a plan to get the patient off treatment medication.”

“Senator Jackson has identified a pressing enforcement need in the fight against opioid addiction. I appreciate him bringing this legislation,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “I am confident these measures will serve to crack down on those peddling unnecessary opioids while still allowing doctors to get legitimate patients and those suffering from addiction the treatment they need.”

The bill, which now awaits Governor Bill Haslam’s signature, will take effect on July 1.


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