OIG Identifies Docs Who Over-Prescribe Opioids to Retirees (Medicade Part D Recipients) | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In the latest bid to stem the opioid epidemic, investigators at the Department of Health and Human Services have identified excessive prescribing patterns in Medicare Part D involving hundreds of doctors and plan to work with law enforcement authorities to curtail the practice.


In a new report, the HHS Office of Inspector General found that 401 prescribers last year wrote more than 256,200 prescriptions for nearly 90,000 Part D beneficiaries who were deemed to be at serious risk because they received “extreme” amounts of opioids or appeared to be doctor shopping.


The prescribing patterns not only suggest these prescribers are contributing to the opioid epidemic, which was blamed for 33,000 deaths in 2015, but is also costing taxpayers significant sums.


To wit, 1 of every 3 Part D beneficiaries received a prescription for an opioid — or 14.4 million out of 43.6 million enrollees — for which the plan paid almost $4.1 billion in 2016. About 80 percent of the prescriptions were for Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances, such as Vicodin and Percocet, which have a high risk of abuse.


In one instance, a Florida physician wrote prescriptions for just one Part D beneficiary in one day for three different opioids: oxycodone and two forms of fentanyl. In all, this doctor prescribed opioids for 125 people who received “extreme” amounts, and Medicare shelled out $1.6 million.