Drug related deaths in Tennessee 26% higher national average

Drug related deaths in Tennessee 26% higher national average (Image 1)

According to the Tennessee Medical Association, prescription drug related deaths in Tennessee are 26% higher than the national average.

Experts told Nashville's News 2 Investigates that Tennessee has a serious chemical dependency problem.

Jason Greene is on the front line of a pharmaceutical war, working at Reeves-Sain Pharamcy in Murfreesboro.

“The most significant cause of death from drug over dose is from opiodes. Oxycodones. Things like that,” he elaborated.

Greens' company is determined to discourage pharmaceutical abuse.

“There are large quantities of very heavy narcotics coming across our counters,” he said.

The problem is so bad in Tennessee that Reeves-Sain Pharmacy primarily writes prescriptions for people in Rutherford County alone.

“You have to be a Rutherford County resident or your doctor has to be in Rutherford County or a surrounding county,” he explained. “Every pharmacist who works here uses their own judgment and we talk to the patient .”

In April Nashville's News 2 Investigates went undercover with a drug agent from the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force.

Highlighted in the investigative report was an alleged pill mill in Nashville with a parking lot full of loitering people, networking car to car with license plates from as far as the North Carolina border.

Greene said that the man in that undercover investigation could have a found a doctor where he came from, Cocke County.

“If you have pain, you will find a provider who will take care of you,” he said.

Greene said what's important is checking a new patient's driver license and making sure they live locally.

When asked if it would be a good idea for the state as a whole, Greene said it might.

“It just lets us know we are taking care of someone who lives within our area,” he said.

He continued, “I think people would be amazed that you have to go in and buy alcohol or tobacco and you have to show ID. but you can buy the equivalent of pharmaceutical heroine and you don't have to show a thing.”

According to the Williamson County District Attorney's Office, “doctor shopping” is a misdemeanor for those caught with less than 250 pills.

It's a felony for those who are convicted in connection with Tenn Care fraud.

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