Tennessee County Pharmacies Buy 1.5 Million Painkillers: 270 Pills for Every Person

painkiller abuse

There are many things that drive the current drug crisis; the desire and want for drugs, the need to blur out reality, or take a reprieve from the daily grind of life. As the drug problem gets worse, it becomes more glaringly obvious the things that help to curb the problem and what makes matters worse. The over-prescription of narcotic painkillers not only started our society down an endless road of addiction many years ago, but also continues to happen to this very day. Painkillers wind up in the medicine cabinets of many people who are utterly unaware of their addictive potential and life-changing qualities. While government agencies are attempting to crack down on opioid prescriptions nationwide, it appears that one state county is continuing to perpetuate the issue with pain pills.

Pharmacies in Clay County, Tennessee are under federal investigation by the DEA after it was found that 1.5 million painkillers were purchased to dispense to the 7800 people who reside there. Clay is a small, rural county with only one town, and that exorbitant number of pills is enough to ensure that every single person in the area has around 270 a piece. That’s a bit of overkill, considering that every person in the town doesn’t need that much narcotic medication. Martin Reed, Division Program Manager for the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration said,

“Basically it comes out to being around 270 pills per person, for every man, woman, and child, which is impossible.”

The DEA was tipped off by the large orders of drugs purchased by local pharmacies to supply the needs of such a small area. DEA agents have been investigating all the local pharmacies, who have responded that the aging, local work force needs the medication to protect quality of life issues, since worker’s bodies have taken a beating from years of manual labor. Mr. Reed also said, “We’re not really sure where this is headed, but we can tell you it’s not normal for a small population to be giving out that many pills in such a small area.”

270 pills per person in TN

While investigations into Clay County continue, lives are lost on a regular basis throughout the state as a result of the surging drug problem. Each year, many addicts lose their lives to addiction and more often than not, opioids are to blame for the fatal overdoses. Fentanyl has been found in Tennessee, just as it has in almost every other state and continues to ravage society.

At this point, it’s about controlling the damage fentanyl and other opioids are causing. Overdoses can be mitigated by the administration of CPR and Narcan while waiting for emergency services to arrive. Narcan has saved countless lives that would have been otherwise lost. It’s unfortunate that Narcan is a necessary survival tool in today’s society, but at least we have it in the meantime while we work on an overall solution for the drug crisis.

Sources Used:



Peggy Cote, RN

Peggy Cote is a registered nurse with over 40 years of experience in the medical and addiction field. Her practice has also focused on holistic and naturopathic healthcare, looking toward natural solutions first before allopathic interventions. Peggy has devoted her career to helping people better themselves, their health, and their lives. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn.