Tennessee county: 270 pain pills per person!

CLAY COUNTY, Tenn. (WZTV) – They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but one Tennessee town may disagree.

Clay County, Tennessee, has received national attention after a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation revealed its pharmacies purchased enough drugs last year to provide 270 pain pills for every man, woman, and child living in Clay County.

It’s the job of DEA agents to monitor how controlled substances move throughout the country. Their databases red flag places and physicians that are high prescribers, and that’s what brought them to Clay County, which sits about 30 miles north of Cookeville along the Kentucky border.

Home to just 7,800 people, it doesn’t have much by way of businesses.

It’s only city, Celina, has a few antique stores, Churches of Christ, diners, and four pharmacies.

All of those drug stores are located a stone’s throw away from one another.

While they may look like small businesses, according to the DEA, last year those four pharmacies bought 1.5 million pain pills.

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“Basically it comes out to being around 270 pills per person, for every man, woman, and child, which is impossible,” says Martin Reed, Division Program Manager for the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.

It’s that high volume of opioids for such a small population that caught the attention of federal agents.

Tara Anderson owns and operates Anderson Hometown Pharmacy, one of the Celina drug stores unexpectedly inspected by the DEA back on August 27th.

“I haven’t done anything I’m trying to hide,” says Anderson.