U.S. Senate Debate Discusses Opioid Crisis

Posted at 7:42 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 20:45:13-04

It was a clash of thoughts during the debate between U.S. Senate candidates Congressman Marsha Blackburn and former Governor Phil Bredesen.

While they disagreed on many things, the battle lines were clear on the opioid crisis.

The opioid crisis will be a political issue in this race after watching Tuesday night's debate. Governor Phil Bredesen called his opponent an enabler for teaming up with pharmaceutical companies accused of contributing to the epidemic.

“She passed a bill that took much of the enforcement ability the DEA had to deal with these issues away,” he said.

“What he just said was false,” Congressman Blackburn said. “The bill was voted and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. It was a three-year bipartisan process.”

Opioid abuse is a constant problem in the state. Nearly 1,800 Tennesseans died of a drug overdose in 2017.

Prescription opioids count for the most common cause of overdoses. What's troubling is the stronger synthetic opioid fentanyl is causing more deaths.

Bredesen used this as part of attack ads against Blackburn. Tuesday night, she said more resources to law enforcement are required to help.

Experts in the field, however, said pinpointing an exact solution is not so easy.

“It's going to take all perspectives to solve this thing,” said Dr. Chapman Sledge, Cumberland Heights Chief Medical Officer. “It is a multi-factoral problem, and the solution is extremely complex.”

A political analyst said the opioid issue is weighing heavier on Bredesen's side so far; however, it'll likely not make a huge difference in the polls.