Chattanooga among worst cities in U.S. for opioid prescription abuse

Painkillers like these could be affected if a tracking database is put in place. Federal officials and advocates both want to require doctors to use pill-tracking databases to curb painkiller abuse.

Chattanooga, Jackson, and the Bristol-Kingsport-Johnson City area are among the worst 25 cities in the U.S. for opioid prescription abuse, according to a new study by a health information company.

Wilmington, N.C., had the worst prescription opioid abuse problem, with 11.6 percent of those receiving prescriptions abusing them, according to Castlight Health, the San Francisco-based company that did the survey, using insurance claims data for a five-year period from 2010 through the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee State Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require all pain treatment clinics that prescribe opioids to be licensed and receive regular inspections.

Opioids include drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, given to reduce pain. Prescriptions for opioids soared nearly 400 percent between 1999 and 2010, and some 16,000 people died from drug overdoses associated with the painkillers, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.