Senator Richard Briggs and Representative Matthew Hill of Tennessee are pushing forward legislation that would require pharmacists and drug makers to put combination locks on all of their pill bottles.
The pair put out a press release that stated:
Drug addiction specialists, medical professionals, and parents who lost a child due to drugs, all part of a statewide coalition called “STOP – Secure Tennessee’s Opioid Prescriptions,” joined Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) and Representative Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) at a press conference today announcing SB 475 / HB 364, known as the “Pilfering Prevention Act.” The East Tennessee lawmakers are the primary sponsors of the bill, which would require certain dangerous prescription drugs – such as opioids, stimulants and benzodiazepines – be dispensed in lockable containers.
Senator Richard Briggs says that citizens of his state are accidentally overdosing because kids are sneaking pills from prescriptions that don’t belong to them:
“Too often well-meaning Tennesseans are completely unaware of the highly addictive, and potentially lethal, prescriptions drugs sitting in the family medicine cabinet. This is where drug addiction starts, and often where accidental overdoses occur. These drugs are being manufactured and prescribed in record numbers, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that drug-related deaths are at an all-time high in Tennessee. We must explore every tool to combat this epidemic, and my bill is a practical and important step in the right direction.”
Representative Matthew Hill said that this new policy could prevent drug abuse:
“Currently there is little distinction between the way commonly-prescribed drugs and highly-addictive and dangerous drugs are dispensed in Tennessee. If we’re going to be serious about addressing our obvious prescription drug problem in Tennessee, we have to implement safeguards that differentiate certain dangerous prescriptions and divert the possibility of abuse. That’s what my bill aims to do.”
The lawmakers point to the most recent data from the Tennessee Department of Health, which shows that 1,776 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2017, the vast majority of them being opiate overdoses.
“What we are really trying to do is just to keep the teenagers from taking and diverting the pills out of the medicine cabinet. Because that’s where so much of the addiction starts — it’s in adolescence,” Briggs said.
80% of opiate addicts reportedly start on prescription pharmaceuticals like percocet or oxycontin. As law enforcement and regulators have cracked down on over-prescription of pain pills, people who have become addicted to these substances turn to street opiates, which are many times cut with the deadly fentanyl.
Politicians in Michigan, Colorado and Maryland, have attempted to pass similar laws but the legislation has failed. This effort in Tennessee seems like the best chance that these combination lock pill bottles have of getting onto the market.
Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade (100% pure) heroin.
Since Fentanyl is so strong, it can be mixed with heroin and other adulterants to trick people into thinking that they are getting more heroin than they actually are. However, the risk of death and overdose greatly increase because Fentanyl is very disruptive to the respiratory system.
“The more narcotic you take, the less your body has an urge to breathe, and it makes sense that a lot of people are overdosing on it because they aren’t sure how much to take,” Dr. J.P. Abenstein, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists said in a statement.
More than 11 million people abused prescription opioids in 2016, according to the CDC. The agency also reported that drug overdoses killed nearly 64,000 Americans in 2016.
Opiate addiction is a problem all over the world, but America has seen this problem skyrocket in recent years. Last year, AnonNews reported on the disturbing story of a mother drugged out of her mind on opiates attempting to drive her daughter to the story.
The woman did not even realize that she was being recorded. These types of stories are sadly common. It is not unusual for you to see people falling over while walking on the side of the road in major cities. Even affluent communities are seeing overdose deaths coming in record numbers.