After it abruptly closed with little to no warning, a Michigan-based company is taking over some of the pain management clinics in Tennessee once operated by Comprehensive Pain Specialists.
Therapix Healthcare Resources is acquiring eight clinics across the state, including the Hendersonville location at the TriStar Medical Center on New Shackle Island Road.
The company sent out letters to patients, originally left scrambling to find different providers to gain access to opioids they normally would use to treat their excruciating pain, to say they will make the transition "as smooth as possible."
CEO John Adessa said the clinics will operate like how it was before by providing opioids and procedures to treat pain. On the other hand, he hopes to roll out a new plan that will provide CBD oil products by next year.
"We will be distributing CBD oil products that have been proven to be effective in reducing pain. The less that will be required to prescribe opioids, and have alternative medications and services that we can provide, I think it's better for the patient," Adessa said.
Adessa could not elaborate on the products but said they are still in its exploratory and trial phase.
Therapix's parent company, Therapix Biosciences, specializes in developing cannabinoid technologies for treatment.
"The CBD products are going through trials and a lot of investigative work so that they do meet the patients' needs," Adessa added. "From a patient, safety and health perspective, it works better in our opinion."
CBD is primarily from hemp, which is legal in Tennessee. It is a cannabis but unlike marijuana, hemp has very little of the chemical THC, and does not give the psychoactive effects.
People consume CBD in oils, gummies or smoking the hemp buds, claiming it helps for everything from seizures to anxiety to pain.
The CBD product will be distributed out of the centers but the main focus will still be on the interventional pain medicine side, according to Adessa.
He is also working with behavioral health professionals to have experts on site to help pain patients dealing with depression or other mental health issues, and introduce a ketamine infusion therapy.
Adessa said the plans would still have to be discussed with the state.
The Hendersonville location is operating with the new company name but with the same medical director, Dr. Peter Kroll, CPS's last CEO right before the closures in July.
In a statement made in June, Kroll said, "CPS must address the challenges of shrinking reimbursement and escalating costs that are causing extreme financial pressures on the provider side of healthcare."
Kroll was not available for comment.
The sudden closures, which included clinics in 10 states, caused panic among chronic pain patients who relied on CPS to gain access to the drugs. There were concerns desperate patients would turn to illicit drugs or suicide.
The changes come as former CEO John Davis faces a federal criminal investigation for an alleged Medicare fraud after his sudden departure from CPS last year.
Adessa said Therapix had been in talks with CPS since 2016 but only signed a letter of intent this year.
Other Therapix facilities already licensed with the state include Oak Ridge, Maryville and Athens, according to a licensure search through the Tennessee Department of Health website.