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Tennessee lawmakers considering bill that would require locked pill bottles for opioids

Posted at 9:38 PM, Mar 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 13:01:00-04

A local mom has joined Tennessee lawmakers to back a bill that would require a prescription bottle design change in order to save young lives.

Betty Mason of Green Hills, Tennessee lost her daughter, Katy to an opioid overdose in May 2016. 

"Great IQ, great student, great athlete. She had everything in the world going for her and it...her future was bright and it came to an abrupt halt with this," Mason said.

Doctors told Mason that Katy was in the hospital on life support after the apparent overdose.

Mason said her daughter started experimenting with prescription drugs after eighth grade with friends.

She said for five years her daughter's big smile would fade during her time in and out of three treatment facilities.

Mason hoped a state proposed bill, Pilfering Prevention Act, would help curb Tennessee's opioid epidemic.

The act would allow prescription bottles for drugs considered severely psychologically or physically addicting to have a 4-number combination lock.

Each patient would be assigned a pin number to unlock the container.

Dr. Sterling Haring with Vanderbilt University Medical Center contributed to a John Hopkins report which recommended updating prescription packaging. 

The update would apply to only Schedule II prescriptions, meaning substances that have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Most prescription bottles haven't changed for 50 years.

"But to me if your boat is sinking, the first step is to plug the hole and then you start bailing the water out. So to mean what this bill does is plug the hole," Haring said.