Data Lists Top Pill Suppliers

Tennessee got 2.5 billion painkillers over 6 years Mike Reicher and Brinley Hineman Nashville Tennessean USA TODAY NETWORK – TENNESSEE Two and a half billion pain pills. That’s how many opioids were supplied to Tennessee over six years, according to data recently released by The Washington Post. The data from the Drug Enforcement Administration shows the top distributors, manufacturers and pharmacies for pain pills across the nation — a glimpse into the legal but opaque world of opioid prescriptions. One out of every three opioid overdose deaths nationwide involved prescription pain pills in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the nation’s opioid epidemic su

Man Convicted for Selling Drugs That Killed 3 People

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A federal judge called it one of the saddest cases he’s ever seen. Drug dealers sold counterfeit pills, knowing their customers were keeling over in droves, some of them dying. Jonathan Barrett is now in prison for selling pills that prosecutors said led to three deaths and more than 30 people collapsing from overdose during a 24-hour period in 2016. Murfreesboro hospitals, police and EMS were swamped with calls. Barrett sold pills that were pressed and stamped to look like Percocet, a commonly prescribed pain pill. There was no Percocet in these, instead a potentially lethal substitute. “What you’re getting is fentanyl, which is 10 times stronger than heroin,” said Mu

It's Scary': Survivors Reflect after 2.5 Billion Legally Prescribed Opioids Flood Tennessee

76 billion. That’s how many prescription oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed across the United States from 2006-2012. The Washington Post reports they had to sue the DEA to get those numbers, and have just released them to the public. Those numbers are nothing without the faces behind them - the survivors of the opioid epidemic. “I started working for an oral surgeon. That’s how it got started. The girls and I that I was working with, we used every day. We would go and get pain pills on our lunch hour every day and just stay high at work.” Shawna Cole’s story is shocking, but not unique. Hundreds of thousands of Americans likely share some version of the same story. Another vict

Three Women Arrested for Attempting to Bring Cocaine to Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Three women traveling from Mexico to Nashville via commercial bus have been arrested after each was found with two cocaine bricks wrapped around their midsections under their outer clothing, according to a news release. Metro Police said Alegria Mayna Martinez, 34, Karla Cecilia Rodriguez-Galindo, 29, and Rosalba Belland, 48, each carried 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of cocaine. The seized cocaine has a street value of $220,000. Metro Police’s Major Case Task Force and the DEA followed up on information that several persons were transporting cocaine to Nashville from Mexico via commercial bus. The bus was stopped on I-65 in Davidson County Friday morning. The women were ch

Chattanooga Woman Charged with 1st-Degree Murder after Twins Die following Excessive Drug Use

A Chattanooga woman has been charged with first-degree murder after her twins died allegedly because of her use of multiple illegal drugs. Tiffany M. Roberts, 29, is also charged with aggravated child abuse and a viable fetus as a victim. Chattanooga Police responded on Tuesday to Children's Hospital on the death of two twin girls who died after being born prematurely (23 weeks). Hospital officials said both infants tested positive for several narcotics, including cocaine, at the time of their birth. They said Ms. Roberts had tested positive on three different days for cocaine, meth, Oxycodone, Roxicodone and Benzodiazepine while pregnant with her babies. Ms. Roberts admitted to using the dr

Nashville Paramedics: Nearly 25% More Patients Overdosing, Need Narcan Than in 2018

Significantly more patients have shown the signs of an overdose that required intervention with Narcan this year than last year, according to the Nashville Fire Department. The NFD reported administering Narcan to 224 patients showing the signs of an overdose during the month of June, the department said. Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, is an inhalable or injectable drug that stops overdoses by temporarily binding the portions of the brain that normally receive opioids. Naloxone has virtually no effect on someone who has not taken opioids, so the drug is not harmful if it is mistakenly given to someone who is not actually overdosing. In June 2018, only 204 patients required the intervent

Man Gets Prison for Selling Fentanyl as Heroin Alternative

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Tennessee man has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for selling fentanyl to someone who asked for heroin. The U.S. attorney's office in Memphis said Tuesday that 31-year-old Zacharia Mitchell sold an ounce (28 grams) of a white, powdery substance to a person in a supermarket parking lot in January 2018. MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Tennessee man has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for selling fentanyl to someone who asked for heroin. The U.S. attorney's office in Memphis said Tuesday that 31-year-old Zacharia Mitchell sold an ounce (28 grams) of a white, powdery substance to a person in a supermarket p

Police: Mother’s Drug Use Led to Deaths of Newborn Twins

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Police have charged a Tennessee mother with murder and other counts saying her drug use during pregnancy led to the deaths of her newborn twins. News outlets report a Chattanooga police affidavit says 29-year-old Tiffany Marie Roberts used drugs during her pregnancy including on July 20, when she experienced shortness of breath and went to the hospital where doctors performed an emergency delivery. The complaint says Roberts tested positive for illegal drugs during her pregnancy and medical staff told police both infants tested positive for several narcotics when they were born Sunday. Both infants died on Tuesday. Police say Roberts is charged with murder, aggravat

Feds: Sen. Steve Dickerson Made an Estimated $6.5M from Fraudulent Pain Clinics

Federal prosecutors estimate state Sen. Steve Dickerson profited at least $6.5 million from his ownership of a pain clinic company during the same time period the company is accused of defrauding taxpayers out of about $25 million. Dickerson, R-Nashville, an anesthesiologist, is one of the founders of Comprehensive Pain Specialists, or CPS, which was sued by the Department of Justice on Monday. The lawsuit says CPS billed the government for excessive drug testing on a daily basis and company owners looked the other way because they were earning millions. Dickerson has declined to comment through his attorney, Ed Yarbrough. "I would have only one comment: Dr. Dickerson is an honest man. We wi

Feds: Sen. Steve Dickerson, Pain Clinics Defrauded Taxpayers out of $25M, Using 'Liquid Gold&#39

Federal prosecutors have sued Nashville Sen. Steve Dickerson and several Tennessee doctors on allegations they defrauded the government and taxpayers out of at least $25 million as owners of one of the largest pain management chains in the nation. The lawsuit, filed Monday, accuses Comprehensive Pain Specialists, or CPS, of submitting “thousands of false claims to federal and state funded health care programs.” Many of the fraud allegations stem from billing the government for urine sample drug testing that was unnecessary and overpriced. In some cases, CPS never actually checked the results of the drug tests, the lawsuit says. “This testing was commonly referred to as 'liquid gold' — leavin

Tennessee Has Deadliest Year Yet for Drug Overdoses, as Nearby States Improve

Last year was the deadliest ever for drug deaths in Tennessee, and while most of the nation appears to have gained ground on the opioid crisis, the Volunteer State has not. According to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1,837 people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee in 2018. The CDC estimates that an additional 89 people also died of drug overdoses, but those deaths remain unconfirmed by toxicology tests. Even excluding the estimated deaths, the 2018 death toll is an increase of 3% over 2017, which was previously the deadliest year on record. The CDC data released this week does not reveal what drugs caused each overdose, but state experts believe

Tennessee Has Deadliest Year Yet for Drug Overdoses, as Nearby States Improve

Last year was the deadliest ever for drug deaths in Tennessee, and while most of the nation appears to have gained ground on the opioid crisis, the Volunteer State has not. According to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1,837 people died of drug overdoses in Tennessee in 2018. The CDC estimates that an additional 89 people also died of drug overdoses, but those deaths remain unconfirmed by toxicology tests. Even excluding the estimated deaths, the 2018 death toll is an increase of 3% over 2017, which was previously the deadliest year on record. The CDC data released this week does not reveal what drugs caused each overdose, but state experts believe

Next Step: Why These Knoxville Sisters 'Don't Give Up' on Drug Users

KNOXVILLE — When Addie Arbach pulls her car up to South Knoxville’s Sam Duff Memorial Park and starts unloading food and clothing and Narcan, she knows not everybody in town is happy she’s there. Then again, they’re not necessarily welcoming the people she’s going to help, either —homeless people, many of them drug addicts. Arbach and her sister, Rebecca Parr, will make sure they’re not hungry and that they have what they need. That includes hugs, affirmations, unconditional love. And, when they’re ready, she’ll get them to the next step: rehab. Arbach and Parr founded their grassroots Next Step Initiative in 2017, a response to a need that became obvious to Parr when she ran for the 1st Dis

Overdose Deaths Seem to Slip in 2018

NEW YORK – U.S. overdose deaths last year likely fell for the first time in nearly three decades, preliminary statistics suggest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday posted the provisional numbers showing nearly 68,000 drug overdose deaths were reported last year. The number may go up as more investigations are completed, but the agency expects the tally will end up below 69,000. Overdose deaths had been climbing each year since 1990, topping 70,000 in 2017. The numbers were celebrated by the U.S. secretary of health and human services. “Lives are being saved, and we’re beginning to win the fight against this crisis,” Alex Azar wrote in a tweet. But the overdose death

$1M in Cocaine Revealed in Dickson Co. I-40 Task Force Bust

More than $1 million worth of cocaine was taken off the street this month when drug task force agents apprehended a man, who was driving a rental vehicle with several passengers, according to officials. Brian Beasley, director of the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force, said a task force agent pulled over the rental pickup truck about 11:30 p.m. on July 7 on Interstate 40 in Dickson County. The officer found nine kilograms in a hollowed out area of the tailgate and four kilos in the spare tire, which is the equivalent of about 28 pounds of cocaine. Martin Jacquez, whose identification showed he’s a Mexican citizen, was driving with six other passengers eastbound on I-40. Brian Beasley, di

ReVIDA Recovery Opens, Forms Partnership to Reduce Babies Born Drug-Dependent

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After a few months of operation, ReVIDA Recovery Knoxville held its grand opening Wednesday. At the event, ReVIDA CEO Lee Dilworth announced a partnership between ReVIDA and 180 Health Partners that will work to reduce the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). "We wake up every day to help people recover their lives from opioids," Dilworth said. "We look forward to this partnership helping expectant mothers who have been harmed by the opioid epidemic reclaim their lives." The Tennessee Department of Health defines neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) as "a condition in which an infant undergoes withdrawal from a substance in which he or she was expos

Tennessee Puts a Face on the Opioid Crisis in New Awareness Initiative

Tennessee's health department is trying to humanize the opioid crisis. A public awareness campaign funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launches Tuesday. It's called "Tennessee Faces of the Opioid Crisis." The state has identified one person from each county to represent thousands fighting addiction. In Knoxville, it's Michele Norris. She's in long-term recovery, volunteers as a peer counselor and runs a weekly meeting in the public housing projects. Norris says, even with increased attention to overdose deaths, there remains denial. "A lot of the African American churches, they don't want to talk about it," she says. "They don't even want to talk about it, even though me

As Nationwide OD Deaths Fall, More Work to Do in E. Tennessee

In a deadly drug epidemic, a sign of hope. Preliminary data from the centers for disease control shows the first drop in nationwide overdose deaths in 29 years. It's not much, just 4.4%, but every data-point is a life. "Seeing a plateau or decline in drug overdoses is fantastic news," Deborah Crouse with the Metro Drug Coalition said. "This is someone's mother, son brother, friend." Crouse said even with a nationwide decline, there's more work to be done in East Tennessee. "One is definitely still one too many," she said. In Knox County, preliminary data from the District Attorney General's office shows 133 deaths so far this year from drug overdoses. That's down 37 people from this time las

All4Knox Summit Aims for a Community Wide Solution to the Opioid Crisis

Heather Starbuck knew of her fiancé’s past struggles with addiction, but in the two years they’d been together, she’d never seen them. So it was shocking, as well as devastating, to Starbuck when Matthew Adams, 30, overdosed on heroin and died in the fall of 2017 – after years of staying sober and building new relationships, a career and a life in Colorado. Adams became addicted to opioids at age 19, Starbuck said, starting with a prescription to oxycodone that he replaced with heroin when he could no longer get the pills. She said he then spent nearly 10 years fighting addiction, developing coping skills and dealing with underlying mental health and trauma issues. “We all thought he’d overc

$1 Million Grant Extends Opioid Treatment to UTMC

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Lee visited Knoxville Wednesday to help announce the expansion of opioid treatment in East Tennessee. The expansion is through a partnership between Helen Ross McNabb and UT Medical Center. United Healthcare awarded a three-year, $1 million grant to help Helen Ross McNabb offer peer support specialists in UT's emergency department. The added resources will give people addicted to opioids a chance to receive treatment before they ever leave the building. Governer Lee said Wednesday this is a necessary step to combat the opioid crisis and he hopes to see similar models all across the state. "And so it's important to me because if it's important to that many Tennesse

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If they're still alive, there's hope.