Tag Archives: Medicare

Painkillers over-prescribed to Medicare patients: study

bunchofpillsA new study by the Department of Health and Human Services highlights a variety of problems concerning prescription medication practices among doctors and pharmacies servicing Medicare patients, including over-prescribing, over-billing, and over-medicating.

The review identified more than 2,200 doctors whose records stood out in one of five areas: prescriptions per patient, brand name drugs, painkillers and other addictive drugs or the number of pharmacies that dispensed their orders, according to this article.

More than half of 736 physicians studied wrote prescriptions for extremely high amounts of controlled substances that have the potential for addiction and abuse, the article says.

All told, the drugs ordered by the doctors labeled “extreme outliers” cost Medicare $352 million, according to the study.

In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs, according to the CDC.

Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the U.S. parallels a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of these medications, which were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined, the CDC says.

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Medicare wrongly refilled painkillers worth $25M: report

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.

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