Burr & Forman

07.10.2018   |   Articles / Publications

The Opioid Crisis – Where Do We Go From Here?

Reprinted with Permission from the Nashville Medical News

As discussed in last month’s edition of the Nashville Medical News, the Tennessee General Assembly recently approved a significant portion of Governor Bill Haslam’s “TN Together” plan to combat the opioid crisis in Tennessee. That legislation, which resulted from discussion and compromise among the administration, the legislators, and health care providers, has since been signed into law by the governor as Public Chapter 1039, effective immediately for rulemaking purposes and on July 1 for all other purposes.

The main goal of the governor’s TN Together plan is to “attack the state’s opioid epidemic” through prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. According to the TN Together website: “Tennessee remains in the top 15 of all states in drug overdose deaths, and each year, more opioid prescriptions are written than there are people living in Tennessee, with more than 1 million prescriptions left over.”

Some of the key components of the new law require providers to check the controlled substance database at certain points before and during opioid treatment and place limitations on the duration, frequency, and dosage of most opioid prescribing and dispensing. The new law specifically states that it does not apply to certain types of treatment, including inpatient treatment, active or palliative cancer treatment, hospice care, and prescriptions issued by certified pain management specialists.

Tighter restrictions on access to opioids should help curb the personal and economic devastation wrought by opioid abuse and addiction. But what cannot be ignored by the medical industry and society as a whole is the fact a significant portion of the population suffers from acute and/or chronic pain. The alleviation of such pain is beyond the capabilities of over-the-counter analgesics and NSAIDs, and effective non-opioid painkillers are needed. Tennessee’s new law, for example, specifically requires a provider to document “consideration of non-opioid and non-pharmacologic pain management strategies and why the strategies failed or were not attempted” when treating certain patients with more than a three-day supply of an opioid.

Download the full article, “The Opioid Crisis – Where Do We Go From Here?” written by J. Matthew Kroplin and Jerry W. Taylor.

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