Tennessee Opioid Dispense Rates Exceed National Averages

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The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Confidential Justice Department reports point to heavy advertisement and downplaying of the addictive qualities of OxyContin as a major contributor to the start of the opioid epidemic in the United States. Data shows Tennessee to be well above the national average for opioid dispensing.

Purdue Pharma initially marketed OxyContin in the late 1990s as a drug that would provide relief to cancer patients and those with chronic pain. The drug quickly became popular, along with other opioid drugs used for pain management. 

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2021, more than 645,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022 alone, their research shows that just under 80,000 people have died. 

As public health officials and physicians recognized the dangers of OxyContin, they have moved away from prescribing opioids, decreasing the number of prescriptions written in the last ten years. The most recently available data shows that in 2020, the national opioid dispense rate reached 43.3 per 100 people, which is the lowest rate ever recorded. 

A study funded by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse in 2022 showed a correlation between the number of prescriptions dispensed in a county and increased dependence and misuse of opioids. The study stated that if the local-level prescriptions were lessened, a community’s rate of opioid abuse or misuse would lessen as well. 

WKRN reports that other studies, however, suggest that decreasing prescriptions may actually have increased the use of synthetics such as fentanyl. In 2020, 82% of all opioid deaths were attributed to synthetics. 

With continued awareness about the dangers of opioid painkillers, more physicians are prescribing medications like Suboxone–which contains buprenorphine and naloxone—for the treatment of addiction and opioid use disorders.

Suboxone is also an opioid medication, but it does not work in the same way as a traditional type. It works to block the effects of opioids that are more powerful and addictive, helping to curb misuse of the drug.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows counties in Tennessee with the highest opioid dispense rates and compares those rates to the national average. In most of Tennessee, the dispensing rate of opioids was significantly higher than the national average. Tennessee’s dispense rate was 68.5 per 100 people, compared to 43.3 nationally. 

The 10 worst counties for excessive opioid dispensing are listed below:

#10 – Hamilton County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 101.1 per 100 people
  • 47.6% higher than state average
  • 133.5% higher than national average

#9 – Claiborne County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 101.9 per 100 people
  • 48.8% higher than state average
  • 135.3% higher than national average

#8 – Knox County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 105.8 per 100 people
  • 54.5% higher than state average
  • 144.3% higher than national average

#7 – Carroll County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 113.2 per 100 people
  • 65.3% higher than state average
  • 161.4% higher than national average

#6 – Hardin County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 123.0 per 100 people
  • 79.6% higher than state average
  • 184.1% higher than national average

#5 – Hamblen County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 124.7 per 100 people
  • 82.0% higher than state average
  • 188.0% higher than national average

#4 – Sullivan County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 126.4 per 100 people
  • 84.5% higher than state average
  • 191.9% higher than national average

#3 – Coffee County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 138.1 per 100 people
  • 101.6% higher than state average
  • 218.9% higher than national average

#2 – Washington County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 140.1 per 100 people
  • 104.5% higher than state average 
  • 223.6% higher than national average

#1 – Madison County

  • Opioid dispensing rate: 145.1 per 100 people
  • 111.8% higher than state average
  • 235.1% higher than national average

One thought on “Tennessee Opioid Dispense Rates Exceed National Averages

  • September 26, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    Those laws are already tough. It’s hard to even get pain pills for an operation. Don’t make it harder.


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