Microsoft word - talking points for 2012.doc
Legislation to curb prescription drug abuse, the distribution of synthetic (designer) drugs
and meth are among the most important legislation passed by the General Assembly this
year. Prescription Drug Abuse
State lawmakers passed a bill to require doctors or their designees to check the
Tennessee Monitoring Database before initially prescribing an opioid or benzodiazepine substance or at every six months thereafter for the same episode of treatment. The new law comes after a Tennessee Drug Diversion Task Force report showed 56 percent of patients who receive opioid prescriptions have filled another opioid prescription within the previous 30 days.
o Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of
prescription pain medications, with an average of 20 Tennesseans losing their lives each week from drug overdose.
o Last year, there were more deaths in Tennessee due to drug overdoses than
motor vehicle accidents, homicide or suicide. This bill is a huge step in the right direction in curbing this major state health epidemic.
o Currently, Tennessee’s database includes basic patient information, the
identity of the prescribing practitioner, the pharmacy that filled the prescription, and the name, amount and form of medication that the patient received.
o Although the database requires doctors, pharmacists or their designees to
report, there is currently no requirement that they check the database before prescribing or dispensing scheduled drugs to patients.
This legislation requires pharmacies to collect a patient’s prescription information
and report that information to the database within seven days. Currently it must be reported within 40 days.
Finally, the bill enhances penalties for doctor shopping from a Class A
misdemeanor to a Class E Felony when it involves 250 or more pills. The stiffer penalties allow law enforcement officials to go after dealers who distribute the drugs illegally.
Prescription Drug Abuse / Hospital Employees
o A new law was passed to authorize the Controlled Substance Database Committee
to provide a hospital or mental health facility an employee’s prescribing information. Under current law, a hospital’s Quality Improvement Committee exists to evaluate the safety and quality of care provided to patients as well as qualifications and competency of healthcare providers in a confidential and privileged environment. The measure gives hospitals more information about any potential for prescription abuse by their own employees.
o Two key bills attacking the growing problem of synthetic or “designer” drug
o Synthetic drug products are sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food”
but are comprised of a class of chemicals perceived as mimics of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine.
The effects of synthetic drugs include impaired
perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes.
o Although the General Assembly has passed laws previously to ban the chemical
compound used in synthetic drugs, unscrupulous chemists continue to modify molecules in the organic compound to avoid prosecution. Law enforcement officials have testified that by the time a new synthetic drug is discovered and banned, another altered form of the compound has taken its place.
o One attacks synthetic drug abuse by defining it to capture any analogues, which
are chemical compounds having a similar structure to the banned drug. This legislation creates a new Class D felony offense for a person to knowingly manufacture, deliver, dispense or sell a controlled substance analogue. The proposal elevates penalties upon a second or subsequent violation to a Class C felony. If the violation involves the delivery, dispensing or sale of a controlled substance analogue to a minor, the offender will be punished one classification higher than the punishment for delivering, dispensing or selling to an adult. The bill also creates a new Class A misdemeanor offense for a person knowingly to possess or casually exchange under a gram of a controlled substance analogue.
o Another bill makes it a Class E felony to possess, use or sell synthetic substances
intended to imitate controlled substances.
Synthetic Drugs / Methcathinone
o Senate Bill 2507 was approved by this year which adds chemical compounds
considered to be derivatives of methcathinone to the Class A misdemeanor offense of production, manufacture, distribution, possession or sale of synthetic derivatives or analogues of methcathinone. This drug is a Schedule I psychoactive stimulant which is highly addictive and illegal in the United States for clinical use. The legislation removes the intent requirement from the offense of possession of synthetic derivatives or analogues of methcathinone.
o A second measure adds numerous opiates, depressants, stimulants and narcotics to
Schedule I through V of the Controlled Substances Schedule. Senate Bill 2230 also adds Tramadol and Carisoprodol to Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Schedule. A controlled (scheduled) drug is one whose use and distribution is tightly controlled because of the potential for abuse.
o Legislation aiming to curb the use of methamphetamines was approved this year.
The measure makes it a misdemeanor to “attempt to purchase” and “attempt to sell” amphetamines for a non-medical use or unlawful purpose, including the manufacture of meth, leaving a felony as the punishment for completing the act. The governor also announced $750,000 was placed in his budget amendment for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to assist local governments with training and equipment costs related to meth clean-up. This funding was originally appropriated for the current fiscal year but required matching funds from local governments of 25 percent. The current budget proposal eliminates the matching requirement.
o Meth Registry
-- In similar action, the General Assembly approved legislation to
tighten a loophole in the state’s Meth Registry. Senate Bill 2190 adds those convicted of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine and those who
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