Congressman Scott DesJarlais wants a crackdown on patients who share pills. The Republican who represents Murfreesboro was once a doctor himself.
At a hearing on opioid prescription practices, DesJarlais said he tried to warn patients about the addictive potential of drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. He sees the bigger problem being those who lie to get more high-powered narcotics.
"I think there's responsibility among the patients to know that it should be illegal to share these drugs," he said. "I have a license, went to medical school to prescribe them. But patients will often just share them with family and friends, thinking that's ok."
It is illegal to share controlled substances, but DesJarlais says the law isn't enforced. He asked authorities to start requiring patients to sign some sort of binding documentation at the pharmacy.
But the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Richard Baum, pushed back.
"I think it should be the other way," Baum said, adding that he's concerned about there being no mandatory prescriber education on opioids. "The doctors are the experts. They're the ones in the white coats. They're the ones with the responsibility to think about the powerful medications they're putting in the hands of our citizens."
Tennessee is second in the nation for opioid prescriptions per capita, which has contributed to a deadly epidemic. In 2015, There were more than 1,400 overdoses in the state.