Governor Haslam signs legislation sponsored by Senator Yager to curb prescription pain drug abuse

 (NASHVILLE, TN), June 22, 2011 – Govenor Bill Haslam has signed legislation sponsored by State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) to curb the abuse of prescription drugs at pain clinics in Tennessee.  Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of prescription pain medications, having exceeded the national average for controlled substance use for many years.  Some claim that the proliferation of unscrupulous operators of pain clinics, often referred to as “pill mills,” contribute to this problem.  

The bill was sponsored by Representative Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) in the House of Representatives and was supported by the Tennessee Medical Association.

“I am very pleased this legislation has been signed into law,” said Senator Yager.  “We have a very serious problem in this state with the overutilization of pain medications.  This new law puts into place a framework that will allow legitimate pain clinics to serve their patients, while tightening the control to help curb the abuses that we are experiencing.”  

The new law calls for the Department of Health, in concert with the doctors, nurses and physician assistants, to establish rules by October to govern the operation of clinics, including personnel, patient records, data collection and reporting, inspections, health and safety requirement and patient billing.  No pain management clinic will be allowed to operate without a certificate from the Department of Health.  The Department may deny a certificate to anyone who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor related to the distribution of illegal prescription drugs or a controlled substance under the new law. 

In addition, the new statute prescribes that the boards of medical examiners, osteopathic examination and nursing, as well as the committee on physician assistants, will regulate their own members who practice in a pain clinic. These boards will have the authority to examine pain clinics, their staff and patient records, to ensure compliance with the rules. They will also have the authority to investigate complaints.  Professionals violating the statute or rules are subject to personal fines.

“This new law is a significant step forward in working to curb prescription pain killer abuse.  I appreciate the assistance of all of those involved in bringing this bill to passage,” concluded Yager. 

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