KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Senator Richard Briggs is a Knoxville lawmaker who, along with a coalition of others, is pushing for drug reform in a unique way with a new bill.
The coalition, called Secure Tennessee's Opioid Prescriptions (STOP), joined Senator Briggs and Representative Matthew Hill, of Jonesborough, in a press conference on Feb. 4 to introduce SB 475/ HB 364, known as the "Pilfering Prevention Act."
According to a release from Sen. Briggs' office, the bill would require "certain dangerous prescription drugs--such as opioids, stimulants and benzodiazepines--be dispensed in lockable containers."
“Too often well-meaning Tennesseans are completely unaware of the highly addictive, and potentially lethal, prescriptions drugs sitting in the family medicine cabinet,” said Sen. Briggs.
“This is where drug addiction starts, and often where accidental overdoses occur. These drugs are being manufactured and prescribed in record numbers, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that drug-related deaths are at an all-time high in Tennessee. We must explore every tool to combat this epidemic, and my bill is a practical and important step in the right direction," Sen. Briggs said.
The release claims that 'pilfering, or stealing a few pills at a time,' is the number one source for teenage drug abuse in Tennessee as well as in the U.S., with 90 percent of abusers starting as teenagers.
“Currently there is little distinction between the way commonly-prescribed drugs and highly-addictive and dangerous drugs are dispensed in Tennessee,” said Rep. Hill. “If we’re going to be serious about addressing our obvious prescription drug problem in Tennessee, we have to implement safeguards that differentiate certain dangerous prescriptions and divert the possibility of abuse. That’s what my bill aims to do.”
Betty Mason, a woman who lost her daughter to an overdose in 2016, spoke out on the bill.
"This bill creates a critical diversion tool that sounds the alarm when a young person attempts to take these pills. It allows parents to stop addiction before it starts."