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College of Public Health

Dr. Pack Speaks to Tennessee Senate on Prescription Opiate Abuse
Dr. Robert Pack, Professor of Community and Behavioral Health, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Principle Investigator on a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded research program to control prescription drug abuse, presented data on the topic to the Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday January 22nd. (Dr. Pack's presentation begins at the 47:32 mark). Dr. Pack was joined by Dr. Stephen Loyd, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and Associate Chief of Staff for Education at the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Pack reviewed the history and extent of prescription opiate use and abuse in Tennessee, and the dramatic increase in overdose deaths, both Nationally and in Tennessee, over the past twenty years. He spoke about the importance of combating diversion and "doctor shopping" and the numerous steps that are being taken in Tennessee in this regard. Among the interventions discussed included the promulgation of "prescribing guidelines" and provider education targeting to both physicians and pharmacists. He also discussed the potential increase in heroin use as the abuse of prescription opiates is brought under control.

Dr. Pack also discussed his inter-professional research program that examines how providers, pharmacists and patients communicate about prescription opiate use, and the potential impact of promotional activities for drug "take back" programs. He also discussed future direction for prescription drug abuse research at ETSU, especially in the area of preventing youth from becoming prescription opiate users.

Their presentation was preceded by that of Dr. Michael Warren, Director of Family Health & Wellness and Dr. David Regan, Medical Director, both with the Tennessee Department of Health who spoke on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

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