Thursday, October 6, 2011

Government Questions Medicare Patients' Access to Prescription Drugs

Some Medicare beneficiaries are getting more than their share of frequently abused controlled substances. Gregory Kurtz, an investigator with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), testified earlier this week before a Senate subcommittee  about the details of last month’s GAO report of an investigation of instances of questionable access to prescription drugs. The GAO found indications of "doctor shopping" in the Medicare Part D program for 14 categories of frequently abused prescription drugs.

About 170,000 beneficiaries acquired the same class of frequently abused drugs, primarily hydrocodone and oxycodone, from five or more medical practitioners during 2008 at a cost of about $148 million. About 120,000 of these beneficiaries were eligible for Medicare Part D because of a disability. One beneficiary in Georgia received prescriptions for 3,655 oxycodone pills (a 1,679 day supply) written by 58 prescribers, and the GAO had other similar examples.

To read Kutz’s testimony and the GAO's recommendations, go to

To learn more about Medicare Part D, see Psychiatric News at
(Image: Simone van den Berg/Shutterstock)


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