Dr. Robert Pack, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, was invited to testify before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, and the House Health Committee regarding prescription drug abuse and the potential impact of pain clinic regulations on the problem. Dr. Pack is the Principal Investigator for an NIH-funded research project on prescription drug abuse, and he chairs ETSU’s Prescription Drug Abuse/Misuse working group. He briefed lawmakers on actions taken by Washington, Texas and Florida to reduce opiate abuse by strengthening regulations and oversight on prescribers. “Stronger regulations are linked to a decrease, particularly with the highest prescribers,” said Pack. “The actions that allow departmental oversight are consistent with reduction of morphine milligram equivalents and overdose.”
Pack said he supported concepts in Senate Bill 1466 which would give the Tennessee Department of Health more oversight over those who prescribe opiates from pain clinics. The bill has passed second consideration and will be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee next week.
“For the past several years we have been working to combat the growing drug abuse problem that Tennessee is experiencing,” said Senator Crowe. “Testimony this week reflects that we are making progress. However, we have learned that controlling access to drugs and strongly supporting law enforcement is only a part of the solution. We must improve our efforts to work on treating the underlying addiction as well.”