The Medicare program routinely refilled powerful painkillers and other restricted medications that are barred by federal law from renewal without a new prescription, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The report found that in 2009, three-quarters of contractors who processed prescriptions for Medicare program wrongly refilled some medications classed as Schedule II controlled substances, and that those refills were worth a total of $25 million.
Federal law prohibits the refilling of Schedule II controlled substances.
The agency added that some long-term-care pharmacies may have incorrectly billed these drugs as refills when they were “partial fills,” which occur when a pharmacist does not dispense all doses of the prescribed medication at one time.
“Paying for such drugs raises public health concerns and may contribute to the diverting of controlled substances and their being resold on the street,” the report noted.