Extreme opioid use and doctor shopping still plague medicare

In Washington, D.C., a Medicare beneficiary filled prescriptions for 2,330 pills of oxycodone, hydromorphone, and morphine in a single month last year, written by just one of the 42 health providers who prescribed the person such drugs.

In Illinois, a different Medicare enrollee received 73 prescriptions for opioid drugs from 11 prescribers and filled them at 20 different pharmacies. He sometimes filled prescriptions at multiple pharmacies on the same day.

These are among the examples cited in a sobering report released Thursday by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The IG found that heavy use and abuse of painkillers remains a serious problem in Medicare’s prescription drug program. The program, known as Part D, serves more than 43 million seniors and disabled people.
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