Metro Drug Coalition’s
Substance Misuse Task Force

A multidisciplinary stakeholder group comprised of leaders from the Knoxville Academy of Medicine/TMA, state and local law enforcement leaders, addiction treatment experts, hospital representatives, pharmacists, UT College of Nursing, TeamHealth, Tennessee Department of Health, TBI, DEA, Knox County Medical Examiner’s Office, Knox County State Representatives, and other concerned citizens.

When We Began

The group formed in August of 2013, in an effort to bring law enforcement and medical leaders together to address the prescription drug epidemic in the greater Knoxville area.

Where We Meet

The group meets monthly (usually the 3rd Monday of every month) from 6-7:30 p.m.

Our Accomplishments

  • First and foremost, the group has brought everyone on the same page and created an opportunity to share challenges across disciplines.

  • In 2014, instrumental in passing two laws: an ID bill and naloxone by prescription for lay persons.

  • In 2015, instrumental in passing two laws: pain clinic bill to raise the standards of care and Good Samaritan to encourage persons to render aide to an individual suffering from an overdose. Also supported the repeal of the Intractable Pain Treatment Act.

  • In 2016, instrumental in passing or supporting five laws: pain clinic bill to strengthen requirements of a medical director, licensure of outpatient buprenorphine clinics, licensure of pain clinics, Prescription Safety Act of 2016, sunset of the fetal assault law passed in 2014.

  • Saw a 25% decrease (highest in the state) in Milligram Morphine Equivalents (MME) prescribed in Knox County between 2014 and 2015.

  • Provided continuing medical education for prescribers on an annual basis.
  • Worked with Senator Lamar Alexander’s office on removing the pain questions from the financial formulary from patient satisfaction survey scores required by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • In 2016, became the “Action Team” for the opioid reduction efforts of the Knoxville/Knox County/Town of Farragut’s community health council.

  • In 2016, a partnership was established with the Knoxville Academy of Medicine Alliance to provide additional education and outreach.

  • In 2017, passed a buprenorphine guidelines bill to establish a standard of care for treatment.
  • In 2017, saw first decrease in rates of reported cases of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Knox County.
  • In 2018, provided input on the Governor’s prescribing bill for acute pain treatment.
  • In 2018, served on the buprenorphine guidelines development committee.
  • In 2019, sponsored a state resolution encouraging the FDA to consider naloxone to be available over the counter.
  • October of 2019, voted to change the name of the committee to reflect broader scope of work.

  • In 2020, worked on expansion of access to MAT through expansion of nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants under certain restrictions.

Greatest Benefit: Getting diverse stakeholders and leaders in the room to share information, experiences and deepen understanding of the systemic challenges and opportunities to more effectively prevent, intervene, treat and support Knox County’s population through both innovative and evidenced-based strategies.

This group has been recognized both by the state and nationally as a model coalition.