The Department of Justice announced last week that Mark Daniel Allen, a former Tennessee clinic owner, was sentenced to 14 years in prison “followed by three years of supervised release” for the illegal distribution of opioids.

According to court documents, Allen was found guilty on six counts of “unlawfully distributing controlled substances” and one count of “maintaining a drug-involved premises” following a three-day trial in early September 2021. Evidence showed Allen unlawfully prescribed 15,000 opioid pills to three women “with whom he had sexual relationships,” as well as to a male patient who later passed away.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 5,029,476 opioid prescriptions in 2020, and 2,388 overdoses related to opioids. While the number of prescriptions has decreased by almost two million since 2017, statistics showed that 736 out of 1,000 Tennesseans filled prescription that included an opioid.

The Tennessee Star reported in December a nurse practitioner in Tennessee was charged for also unlawfully distributing opioids. Similar to Allen, Kelly McCallum distributed the medications to “individuals with whom she had close personal relationships, including individuals with whom she had sexual relationships,” and also left blank prescriptions for her staff to fill out while she was not in her office.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) noted that opioids are a class of drugs “that include the illegal street drug heroin, synthetic substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil, and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.”

The TBI added that approximately 70,000 Tennesseans struggle with opioid addiction, and that the state has seen “epidemic levels of addiction, overdoses, and death.” Tennessee is ranked third in the country for opioid prescription, despite new legislation aimed at reducing opioid supply. The TBI said the new legislation has helped, and the state saw a slight decrease in opioid prescriptions.

The TBI said while prescription opioids submitted to TBI analysis were down, submissions for fentanyl and heroin have been on the rise.

“The abuse of opioids is having disastrous consequences for our state. In addition to overdose deaths, hospital costs and emergency room visits are increasing, more children are being put in state custody, and incarceration of drug-related crimes is at an all-time high.”

The TBI concluded that while the dangers of illegal drugs and abuse of legal drugs change, “it is incumbent upon law enforcement officers – and the public – to be vigilant in their fight of these substances.”

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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].