Tennessee and Georgia targeting pill abusers
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - More and more Tennesseeans and Georgians are abusing prescription pills, leading to more fatal overdoses. Now lawmakers in both states are trying to come up with ways to keep the pills from their hands.
Despite all of the laws already in place in Tennessee, state-wide there's been a near 25-percent increase in the number of prescription pills being distributed and it's now the number one cause of accidental deaths. A new law to help goes into effect January 1st. While Georgia has similar laws, one local representative argues it's not nearly enough and is pushing for more.
Representative Tom Weldon of Ringgold, Georgia says people are traveling to his state from all over, but not for the peaches.
"They're coming into Georgia because we don't have good legislation and good laws in place to stop these pill mills," Rep. Weldon, R-Ringgold said.
He says Georgia has become well-known for easy access to the top drugs for abusers that include Hydrocodone, Soma and Xanax.
"Drugs that make up the 'Georgia cocktail,'" Rep. Weldon said.
He says the key to stopping the abusers from getting the "Georgia cocktail," is regulating who can open pain management clinics.
"Any one can own one. They can start one today and that's happened here in Ringgold, Georgia recently," Rep. Weldon said.
He's proposing the Pain Management Clinic Act at the 2013 General Assembly that starts next week. It requires clinics to be owned and operated by licensed physicians only. He says more than a hundred new clinics opened in Georgia in the last two years by people other than physicians handing out narcotics at an alarming rate.
"These people are organized crime and they're coming here not to provide healthcare for Georgians, they're coming here to make money," Rep. Weldon said.
In Tennessee, lawmakers are also trying to curb drug addiction and overdoses and they have a new law in effect January 1st they hope will help. Now not only do pharmacists have to submit pill orders into a monitoring database, so do Tennessee doctors.
"The data system is already built and I think the more people that are mandated to utilize it, we'll be better for keeping drug seekers from getting their prize," The Wellness Pharmacy owner Randy Davis said.
That means if a patient goes to several different doctors for the same medicine, the system will alert the doctor.
Weldon says the Pain Management Clinic Act will protect Georgia clinics not taking advantage of addicts. It passed the House last year, but amendments to it failed the Senate on the last day in session.
As for the new law in Tennessee, local pharmacists say they're waiting to see what new ways drug abusers will come up with to work around the system.