Report on Medicare Cites Prescription Drug Abuse

 Medicare is subsidizing drug abuse by thousands of beneficiaries who shop around for doctors and fill prescriptions for huge quantities of painkillers and other narcotics far exceeding what any patient could safely use, Congressional investigators say in a new report.

The medications were obtained through Part D of Medicare, which provides coverage for prescription drugs. The drugs most commonly abused by Medicare beneficiaries included powerful prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone products.

In one case described in the report, a Medicare beneficiary in Georgia received a 150-day supply of oxycodone in just 27 days by obtaining seven prescriptions from four doctors. Over the course of a year, the woman received prescriptions for a total of 3,655 oxycodone pills (a 1,679-day supply) from 58 different prescribers, and she filled them at more than 40 pharmacies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/health/policy/04medicare.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share

The 13-page GAO Report can be accessed at: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-104T

Source: The New York Times – October 3, 2011