(WMC-TV) – It has been referred to as a painkiller epidemic, but a new mandate for 2013 hopes to curb prescription pills overdoses in the New Year.
Health officials in Tennessee say drug overdoses are the single largest cause of accidental death in the state. In 2011, more than 1,000 people died from drug overdoses in Tennessee. A new law is designed to change all of that.
"There's so many legitimate people out there that are in pain," said Susan Fedenic. "It's a necessary thing. Do we penalize the M.D.'s? Do we penalize the pharmacists for other people's abuses," she added.
Yes, that is the potential of the new tighter prescription drug controls in Tennessee that go into effect January first.
Pharmacist Rende Ginn says the state's controlled substances monitoring database that has been around for several years.
"The data base is really good. The whole concept of databases is very good," Ginn said.
With the new changes all doctors will have to check the database before prescribing drugs like pain killers and valium. Pharmacists will also have to step up the frequency they update their database.
But the new requirements could be problematic.
"It's hard to require for every single one to be looked up," said Ginn.
Patients who doctor shop will have a more difficult time after the law goes into effect because the state health commissioner says the state is working on an agreement with other states to share information.
"The problem is how do we stop the quote un quote bad guys," Fedenic said.
The state hopes the changes will send up more red flags for doctors and pharmacists who will be more aware of people who are tricking the system.
The state says if a doctor or pharmacist finds that a patient has been abusing the system it will have to be determined if that person has a drug problem. They likely will be referred to some type of counseling.