New legislation aims to reduce prescription drug abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs is reported to be a significant problem, both in Tennessee and nationally. A new report reveals that 98 percent of all crimes in Tennessee are drug-related.

According to a WBIR 10 News report, a majority of the crimes involve prescription drugs. A report from the state health department states that Tennessee is ranked among the highest in the country for prescription drug-related cases. According to a Knox County sheriff, prescription drug abuse touches all classes of society, both rich and poor, which helps explain the increase in these types of issues.

A typical prescription drug abuse scenario involves a drug such as Oxycontin, which is prescribed in a time-released pill form. This means the medicine is released in small doses after an individual ingests the pill. However, it is common for individuals to crush the pill and then ingest it, which makes the medication more powerful. However, this can often lead to addiction.

The authorities are attempting to use new technology to combat the criminal aspect of the problem. For example, the Tennessee Prescription Safety Act of 2012 was signed into law last year. According to Memphis Medical News, the Act creates new requirements in the following areas for physicians who regularly prescribe or distribute prescription drugs:

  • Registration
  • Monitoring
  • Reporting

In terms of registration requirements, the Act requires all physicians who prescribe prescription drugs to register with the Tennessee Controlled Substance Monitoring Database.

Physicians must check the database before prescribing certain prescription drugs to a new patient. They are also required to check the database at least once per year for regular patients using certain prescription drugs. They must also check the database before prescribing a prescription drug if there is a reasonable suspicion that the patient is using illegal or fraudulent means to acquire the drugs.

Will these steps address the underlying problem?

The new requirements are an attempt to curtail the high rate of prescription drug abuse, which can often begin harmlessly. Despite this attempt, it's unclear whether these requirements will curtail the underlying issue. There are a variety of ways to deal with the issue of prescription drugs although these new requirements focus on penalizing the prescription drug user through the database. When a person becomes dependent on a prescription drug and is ultimately charged with a crime, it's important for that person to have the opportunity to address the issue through means other than incarceration.

A drug charge can have severe penalties such as jail time and damage to reputation. Speaking with a criminal defense attorney can be extremely beneficial for someone charged with fraud or any charge related to prescription drug abuse. Although the government may use tracking to catch people who are dependent or need to use these medications that database does not necessarily address the underlying issue. An experienced attorney can provide valuable knowledge and assistance with alleviating the negative consequences.