painkillers | Nashville Public Radio

painkillers

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

Not all drug dependent babies in Tennessee are using the speech and behavioral therapy they're eligible for. That's a key takeaway from a study published this month that confirms a long-held concern about infants who spend their first few weeks of life withdrawing from opioids.

Bloomberg / via Getty Images

The largest insurer in Tennessee has announced it will no longer cover prescriptions for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever.

It's the latest insurance company to turn against OxyContin, whose maker — Purdue Pharma — faces dozens of lawsuits related to its high-pressure sales tactics around the country and contribution to the opioid crisis. Last fall, Cigna and BlueCross BlueShield of Florida both dropped coverage of the drug.

Blake Farmer / WPLN

Physicians who seem to be over-prescribing painkillers or working with addicted patients may now get a tap on the shoulder from a Nashville startup working on behalf of insurors. The company uses sophisticated algorithms to identify problem patients and providers. But since this is such a delicate issue with doctors, they've hired a pharmacist to initiate those chats who — herself — is in recovery from opioid abuse.

Emily Siner / WPLN

A troubled chain of pain clinics — reportedly treating tens of thousands of Tennesseans a month — has blamed its sudden closure on tighter regulations.

But Comprehensive Pain Specialists had a hand in shaping the state's pain clinic laws. And the company, which is under federal investigation, has been quietly co-owned by a current state lawmaker from Nashville. 

Blake Farmer / WPLN

A panel of doctors met for the first time last week with a single mandate: Decide how to punish physicians who prescribe too many opioids. 

Screenshot of Republican Convention / TN Photo Services

In public appearances and small campaign gatherings, former Governor Phil Bredesen and Congressman Marsha Blackburn have been offering a few competing ideas for dealing with the opioid crisis.

Nils Wommelsdorf / via Flickr

Fentanyl has quickly surged to become a leading killer drug in Tennessee, spiking 70 percent between 2016 and 2017. That's according to new overdose statistics put out by the Health Department this week.

Public health officials are redoubling their warnings.

Courtesy of Debbie Martens

Last year set another record for overdose deaths in Tennessee. The state's health department released the latest figures Monday that showed 1,776 fatal overdoses in 2017.

Blake Farmer / WPLN

A small slice of the money Tennessee dedicated to the opioid crisis this year is going to a social network developed by a Nashville startup. It's an app designed for people in recovery.

Lance Cheung / USDA

Tennessee's pain doctors are being inundated with calls from patients needing a specialist to prescribe opioids. The combined impact of a new state law and closure of a dozen pain clinics has created a pinch for pain patients.

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