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Van Huss should focus attention on region’s Suboxone problem

Editorial Board • Oct 13, 2016 at 1:48 PM

State Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-6th, recently announced he would be introducing two pieces of legislation regarding opioids. But the legislation he wants to introduce has nothing to do with opioids and instead focuses on the methadone clinic soon to be located in Gray.

Van Huss wants to introduce a bill that would change state zoning laws and hold the methadone clinic responsible if someone leaves intoxicated from the facility, similar to legislation in the state regarding bars and taverns.

It is a misguided effort, and Van Huss’ time could be better spent working to combat the rampant Suboxone problem in the area.

Methadone and Suboxone are both used to treat people addicted to opioids. But the two drugs are treated very differently by the state.

The state does not take methadone clinics lightly. Methadone clinics in Tennessee are highly regulated. Mountain States Health Alliance and East Tennessee State University had to file a 200-page application, hold public hearings and have the area rezoned before they could even open a methadone clinic.

Suboxone clinics are treated much differently. Until next year, anyone wanting to prescribe Suboxone in Tennessee simply needs to complete the federal requirements and obtain a business license. They don’t have to register with the state, tell the public they are opening or get areas rezoned for medical purposes.

Next year, Suboxone clinics will need to obtain a license from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. That’s it. And single Suboxone prescribers do not have to obtain a license, encouraging those only in it for the money to continue practicing without oversight.

Now, Van Huss wants to put additional regulations on methadone, a substance already highly and efficiently regulated.

Instead, Van Huss should turn his attention to the Suboxone problem so prevalent in Northeast Tennessee. Because according to law enforcement, the problem in our area lies with Suboxone and not methadone. If Van Huss really wants to help the people in his district, regulating Suboxone should be his main focus.

Introduce legislation holding Suboxone clinics to the same standard as methadone clinics. Make every Suboxone prescriber obtain a license to practice in Tennessee and make these Suboxone clinics obtain a certificate of need and go through a very public process.

There are approximately 94 prescribers of Suboxone in the region. And people are coming from out-of-state in order to obtain these drugs.

Van Huss lists a Suboxone clinic on his campaign finance documents as one of his sources of income. And he’s received donations from a pro-Suboxone political action committee. We hope this does not stop him from acting on the region’s Suboxone problem.

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