New Data Shows Continued Decline in Opioid Prescriptions in Tennessee

June 17, 2019 

A new report shows a 13.3% decrease in opioid prescriptions in Tennessee between 2017 and 2018, and a 32.3% drop in the five-year period since 2013.

According to the data, Tennessee performed slightly better than the national average during the most recent the 12-month period and is on par with other states for the five-year downward trend.

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state-by-state data from the American Medical Association Opioid Task Force also showed a dramatic increase in the number of queries to Tennessee’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, rising from 8.6 million in 2017 to 11.4 million in 2018. The CSMD is used to identify and address overprescribing and prevent patients from “doctor shopping” for prescriptions.

According to the AMA report, CSMD queries in Tennessee have increased every year since 2014, when state officials reported 5 million queries. Nearly 51,000 physicians and other healthcare providers are now registered to use the Tennessee CSMD, up from about 39,000 in 2014.

“Our focus in the Tennessee medical community for the past several years has been – and continues to be – controlling what we can control with opioid prescribing and getting better at non-opioid pain management. We continue to focus on appropriate opioid reduction while creating best team-led practices to address pain. This data affirms that we are moving the needle In the right direction and progressing in areas where physicians can make a real difference fighting the epidemic,” said Elise C. Denneny, MD, a Knoxville otolaryngologist and President of the Tennessee Medical Association, a nonprofit advocacy organization representing 9,500 doctors in Tennessee.

TMA was the catalyst to changing the prescribing educational requirements for Tennessee physicians and has educated thousands of healthcare providers on safe and proper opioid prescribing since 2012. The Association has also led the way on important public policies and other initiatives. TMA helped pass the original law implementing the CSMD and was the first state medical society in the U.S. to support mandated controlled substance database lookups by prescribers.

The Tennessee General Assembly in 2018-2019 passed some of the most comprehensive and restrictive laws in the U.S. regulating initial opioid supply. TMA worked with the legislature to make sure the laws help reduce opioid supply without over-regulating the practice of medicine or unreasonably obstructing patients from accessing legitimate, effective pain management.

TMA offers a number of proprietary opioid and pain management resources for doctors and other prescribers at tnmed.org/opioids.