TennCare pain pill prescriptions up 48 percent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- TennCare has seen a 48 percent increase in narcotics prescriptions over the last four years despite efforts to end abuse.

Those efforts include a program called lock-ins, which forces a patient to fill prescriptions at a specific pharmacy.

The state's Medicaid program also caps the number of pills that can be dispensed during each doctor's visit. And it requires patients to use 85 percent of a prescription before they can get a refill.

State Sen. Ken Yager sponsored legislation last year requiring pain clinics to register with the state, have a doctor present at least 20 percent of the time and not accept cash payments. The Harriman Republican told The Tennessean more can be done.

In 2011, TennCare spent $49 million on narcotics, up from $33 million in 2007.

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