Tag Archives: pharmacists

State senator/physician gets attention for injections, vote on compounding bill

A member of the Tennessee Senate was one of the doctors who injected patients with a spinal steroid at a Nashville outpatient clinic in the months immediately preceding a national fungal meningitis outbreak that took the lives of 16 Tennesseans.

Further from The Tennessean:

Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who is an anesthesiologist, administered injections of methylprednisolone acetate to several patients at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center a year ago, records obtained by The Tennessean show.

Months later, Dickerson voted in favor of a bill to ease Tennessee’s regulation of drug compounders. One such firm, the now-defunct New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, is blamed for causing the outbreak by shipping fungus-tainted steroids to Tennessee and 22 other states.

Dickerson, through an aide, declined to respond to questions about his role at the clinic, which closed down voluntarily shortly before the outbreak became public. It has since reopened.

“As a practicing physician, and out of respect for the privacy of the patients involved locally and out of consideration for the patients involved nationwide, Dr. Dickerson cannot make any statements regarding the details of this matter that could distract from focusing on the well-being of the patients or regarding any of the legal claims against the NECC,” an aide wrote in an email response to questions.

Redacted patient treatment records obtained by The Tennessean show Dickerson was listed as the treating physician for two patients at the clinic in August and September of last year. The outpatient center shut down on Sept. 20, two days after a physician realized a possible link between her patient’s fungal meningitis and the steroid injections he had received at the clinic.
Dickerson has not been named as a defendant in any of the pending cases. The records do not indicate the source of the spinal steroid.

…Videotapes and other records show Dickerson was present and voted in favor of a bill passed earlier this year by the General Assembly that eliminates a requirement that pharmacists get a patient-specific prescription for every dose of a compounded drug.
The bill was approved on a unanimous 7-0 vote in late March by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, of which Dickerson is a member. It was approved 27-1 by the full Senate on April 4 and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on April 30. Dickerson was recorded as voting “yes” in the roll call.
While the measure had the support of the state pharmacists association, it drew criticism from advocacy groups.

Note: SB582 was sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. David Shepard, D-Dickson, both pharmacists. In brief Senate floor discussion, Haile declared the bill “has nothing to do with the situation that occurred out of Massachusetts that affected many of our people in Tennessee.” The legisltive website shows the Senate floor vote as 29-1 (with Sen. Todd Gardenhire casting the sole no vote). It passed the House 90-0.

UPDATE: The Tennessean reported Tuesday that Dickerson is named in court papers as the physician who injected a victim of the fungal meningitis outbreak with the tainted spinal steroid that led to her lengthy illness.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court, attorneys for Joan M. Peay of Nashville wrote that Dr. Steven Dickerson, a member of the Tennessee Senate, was the one who injected her with the steroid. Dickerson, who is not named as a defendant in the case, injected Peay with contaminated methylprednisolone acetate on Sept. 7 of last year at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, the 31-page complaint states.

Dickerson, a Nashville Republican serving his first term, has declined to respond to questions about his role at the neurosurgical center.

Note II: Betsy Phillips has thoughts upon the matter (basically, So What?)

Bill Requiring Prescription for Pseudoephedrine Off Notice

Legislation requiring a prescription to buy some cold medications has been stalled in a House subcommittee as lawmakers seek a middle ground between law enforcement officers pushing the proposal as a means to combat methamphetamine production and pharmacists opposing it as an unnecessary inconvenience to consumers.
The bill (HB368) would apply to Sudafed, Advil Cold and other products containing pseudoephedrine, which is used in illegal production of methamphetamine. Sponsor Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, told the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week the measure is needed because previous legislative efforts — including harsher penalties for meth producers and a record-keeping system for sales of the medications — have not worked to control meth.
“The cost to society is millions and millions of dollars,” he said. “Families are being destroyed. People are dying because of this.”
Oregon and Mississippi have mandated that “meth precursors” be sold by prescription only, Hawk said, and meth production in those states has declined “dramatically.”
But with Hawk’s assent, the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, announced the bill is being “taken off notice” and will be held without action while alternatives are explored. Shipley said he and other legislators met with Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials, who support the measure, and “we were not persuaded this is the approach we need to take.”

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Doctors, Pharmacists Work With Gov on Painkiller Bill

From Matt Lakin in the News Sentinel</a:
Doctors and pharmacists say they're willing to work with Gov. Bill Haslam's administration on its proposed legislation to combat prescription-drug abuse, although they might call for compromise on some points.
"We know the problem's an epidemic," said Russ Miller, executive vice president of the Tennessee Medical Association. "Now that we've seen a little more of the governor's proposal, we're supportive of measures to tighten up on prescriptions, on who's writing them and on who's getting them. I think we're headed in the right direction. The intent's right, but the pragmatics of it all are something we think we need to look at a little more."
The governor's public safety action plan, announced last week, includes a proposal that would require physicians and pharmacists to check the state prescription drug database before writing or filling painkiller prescriptions. Current state law leaves such checks up to the doctor or pharmacist's discretion, except for registered pain management clinics.

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Yager Bill Would Require Check of Drug Database Before Filling Prescriptions

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN) – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) announced today that he will sponsor prescription drug abuse legislation in the 2012 legislative session to require doctors, pharmacists or their designees to check the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database before prescribing or filling prescriptions for scheduled drugs. In addition, a separate bill being drafted by Senator Yager would require that anyone who picks up a prescription for a scheduled drug must show photo identification.
Yager was the sponsor of legislation passed in the 2011 legislative session that will go into effect January 1 cracking down on prescription drug abuse at pain clinics in Tennessee. That law required the Department of Health, in concert with the doctors, nurses and physician assistants, to establish rules to govern the operation of clinics, including personnel, patient records, data collection and reporting, inspections, health and safety requirement and patient billing.
Beginning 2012, no pain management clinic will be allowed to operate without a certificate from the Department of Health, which can deny one to an applicant who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor related to the distribution of illegal prescription drugs or a controlled substance.
“Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of prescription pain medications,” said Senator Yager. “It is important that we continue to take steps to address this huge health and public safety issue in our state. The current state database is under utilized and closure of this loophole will strengthen our fight against the tragic epidemic of prescription drug misuse.”

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