Madison Wade, WBIR 6:43 PM. EDT October 16, 2017


KNOXVILLE, TENN. – A 60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation released Sunday claimed Congress helped “disarm the DEA” from fighting the nationwide opioid crisis. 

The investigation reported a law passed in 2016 and signed by President Barack Obama made it impossible for the DEA to step in and stop suspicious narcotic shipments from ending up in pill mills. 

An ex-DEA agent came forward and said Congress, lobbyists and several drug distributors fueled the epidemic by allowing the bill to pass. 

Several lawmakers are also facing backlash from the report, including drug czar candidate Tom Marino and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

The Washington Post said Blackburn, who is now running for the senate, was a sponsor of the bill. The report said she received $120,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

According to our partners at the Tennessean, a spokesperson for Blackburn responded, saying “if there are any unintended consequences from this bipartisan legislation, they should be addressed immediately.”

Pharmacists at Belew Drug off Broadway in North Knoxville said the report seemed to address drug distributors instead of pharmacies. 

“It seems like they were focusing on entities doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason,” said Brandon Lock, a pharmacist at Belew Drug. “I think they were naming out the old pill mills that there used to be where you had doctors and pharmacists in one building inappropriately dispensing medications.”

Lock said they do not take the opioid epidemic lightly at their pharmacy.

“We have the ability to say no when anything comes across our desk. if we don’t think it’s appropriate we don’t dispense it,” Lock added. 

Lock they count every pill in every prescription more than once, and they also cannot simply order a surplus of narcotics.

“If a pharmacy orders more of a specific substance in a class then that order would be denied,” Lock said. 

They also run every patient through a controlled substance database that gives the pharmacist more insight into the patient’s previous opioid medications.

“It’s a lot of communication to make sure the right thing is being done,” Lock added.

While the opioid epidemic continues to affect lives and suspected drug overdoses continue to take lives, Lock said it’s important to triple check every prescription.

“All we can do is do our best to control it from our end,” Lock said. “There are not always good people writing prescriptions and you need to find those people and stop that.”

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