CLINTON—Following months of work that began in March 2015, two public hearings, and two separate reviews by County Commission, Anderson County has adopted new local zoning regulations for pain clinics in an effort to prevent or reduce prescription drug abuse in the county, a press release said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now account for more deaths in the U.S. nationally than motor vehicle accidents, with 52 percent of those deaths attributed to prescription medication.
In Tennessee, drug overdose deaths increased 7.7 percent from 2013 to 2014 (1,187 deaths in 2013 to 1,269 deaths in 2014). This is higher than the statistically significant national average change of +6.5 percent, according to the CDC. The Tennessee drug overdose deaths in 2014 are almost equivalent to two full Tennessee Greyhound bus crashes per month without survivors, the press release said.
In 2011, Governor Bill Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly took strong steps to establish regulations that address the manner in which pain clinics prescribe medication, under the Department of Health and Medical Boards, according to the release, which was from the Anderson County Mayor’s Office.
“However, state legislation does not address local oversight issues associated with pain management clinics within counties, so the Anderson County Regional Planning Commission opted to establish safeguards related to where pain management clinics can be established in the county,” the release said.
“Anderson County currently ranks in the second-to-lowest quintile in the state for the number of pain clinics per 1,000 residents in each county; this policy can help keep this number low, ensuring that only responsible businesses and practitioners serve the health needs of our community,” said Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention Executive Director Stephanie Strutner. “I am thrilled to see our elected officials working together to be proactive in identifying solutions to this complex problem.”
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said she strongly believes prescription drug addiction and opioid overdose is a critical issue of our time, and she is “enormously grateful” to Stephanie Strutner, Stacey Pratt, and the entire team at Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention, the East Tennessee Development District (ETDD), and county commissioners for adopting the new regulations.
She said she is especially grateful to the Planning Commission for “spending month after month working on this extremely important issue.
“We know pain management clinics provide necessary medical treatment, but we also know a minority of these clinics have been known to operate illegally with negative effects on our citizens,” Frank said. “We cannot be idle on this issue—we must dig in and urgently and forcefully address an epidemic that is negatively impacting the physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being of family after family that I’ve come in contact with during my tenure as mayor.”
Harold Edwards, secretary of the Anderson County Regional Planning Commission, said officials are “extremely pleased” that the county has adopted zoning regulations for pain clinics.
“While the State of Tennessee has enacted legislation to control the dispensing of opioid painkillers, it is the responsibility of local governments to regulate the location of the dispensing through zoning,” Edwards said. “We want to express our gratitude to ASAP of Anderson County, the East Tennessee Development District, the Anderson County mayor, and County Commission for their collaborative effort to reduce prescription drug abuse in our community.”
The zoning resolution amendment provides for a definition of pain clinics and identifies the clinics as a permitted use in the C-1, General Commercial zone.
The enactment of the zoning amendment places restrictions on the location of pain clinics in Anderson County. Prior to the passage of the amendment, a pain clinic could have conceivably been located in the county’s agricultural, rural residential, local commercial, and light industrial zoning districts, the press release said.
See the pain clinic zoning amendment here: Pain Clinic Zoning Amendment 2015.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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