2017 law requires TN Suboxone clinics to apply for licensing

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A new set of rules and regulations for Suboxone Addiction Treatment Centers is on its way to the state of Tennessee.

Suboxone is a drug used to treat opiate addiction. The dozens of Suboxone prescribers across our region will soon have to apply for a license.

“We want high quality care but we understand there needs to be proper oversight with that,” Paul Trivette of the Tennessee Recovery Coalition said.

The legislation signed back in April addresses Suboxone or Buprenophrine misuse.

As of Jan. 1 the currently unregulated clinics have to apply for a license. Requirements include things like a financial statement, an $810 annual licensing fee and proof of a physician.

“It’s going to more or less bring a guarantee that these facilities are operating under the best practices of addiction medicine,” Trivette said.

If they don’t meet the requirements for a license, they have to close their doors.

Dr. Vance Shaw treats nearly 250 patients at the High Point Clinic in Johnson City and he said he understands if not everyone is on board with this legislation.

“Traditionally people who suffer from addiction tend to have problems with crime. People need to be educated about this subject and realize that once people are on medication assisted treatment they’re just as normal as you and me,” Dr. Shaw said.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus tells News Channel 11 nearly 8 out of 10 autopsies he reads in Sullivan County are drug addiction related.

“The presence of Suboxone along with the pain medications, they’re so readily available in our area they’re causing an uptick in crime, uptick in addiction, increase in deaths,” Staubus said.

He said he’s glad there are rules and regulations in place but he’s concerned they don’t go far enough and they might need some work. He hopes this legislative session that they will reign in the people who misuse Suboxone.

Prescribers can start applying for licenses as early as Thursday, with less than three weeks till a change in law aims to curb our region’s opiate addiction epidemic.

Senator Yager of Roane County, TN sponsored the legislation. The Tennessee Dept. of Mental Health final rules will go through the Government Operations Committee in Nashville, Thursday.

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