New laws to combat opioid abuse are taking effect in Tennessee.
These are part of 12 new laws and $16 million in additional funding to fight the battle.
One of the new laws aims at preventing fake prescriptions by making them all electronic by next year. Governor Haslam signed it into law last spring, and is now in effect.
Under the new law, any prescription for an opioid must be issued as an "electronic prescription" from the person writing the prescription to a pharmacy. The deadline to comply is July 2020.
This law is one of the dozen backed by TN Together, an initiative aimed at fighting opioid addiction.
Studies show nearly a half million fraudulent prescriptions in Tennessee end up filling prescriptions for opioids.
Now, electronic prescriptions will come with orders for the pharmacist -- including the name, address, and telephone number of the physician included on the electronic prescription.
The law allows some exemptions for doctors in rural areas that may not have the technology in place to transmit electronically to a pharmacy.
Brian Sullivan with Addiction Campuses says this will help tremendously in the fight against opioid addiction.
“Having all prescriptions be electronic could be very beneficial for the state of Tennessee so we don't have these fraudulent prescriptions floating around, and getting access to drugs they were not prescribed,” Sullivan explained.
Pharmacists we spoke with say the same thing, in that it will not only cut down on fraud, but will also make it easier for people to get the "correct" medication they need.
Another law for 2019, is limiting first time opioid prescriptions.
Under the new law, pharmacists can only partially fill a prescription for no more than half of the number of days it's written for.
“This will cut down on an oversupply of opioids in your house, in the street, in your cabinet, or that could get in the hands of someone it's not supposed to be in the hands of,” Sullivan said.
General prescriptions are limited to a 10-day supply. Prescriptions after surgery are limited to a 20-day supply. And "medical necessity" prescriptions are limited to a 30-day supply.
“People who are in chronic pain are exempt from that. They don't fall under that category, so they will not be affected by that bill, people who are prescribed opioids regularly,” Sullivan explains.
Another law for 2019, requires the Tennessee Department of Health to have a hotline to report potential opioid abuse.
The Tennessee REDLINE is a toll free number, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide support for people dealing with opioid addiction. To reach them, click here – or call 1 (800) 889-9789.