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CVS Revokes Dispensing Privileges for Doctors Who Prescribe Too Many Painkillers

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CVS has announced it has revoked dispensing privileges for more than 36 physicians and other healthcare providers who wrote large numbers of prescriptions for painkillers, NBC News reports.

The company described its program to evaluate prescription data in The New England Journal of Medicine. The analysis included prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, alprazolam, methadone and carisoprodol from March 2010 through January 2012.

Almost one million providers are included in the company’s prescriber database. Prescribing rates were compared with other providers in the same specialty and region. The company took into account patients’ ages and the number who paid for the drugs with cash.

The analysis revealed one prescriber wrote more than 44,000 doses of high-risk drugs, compared with 662 prescriptions for similar providers, the article notes. The company asked 42 providers for more information about the high number of painkiller prescriptions they wrote. Six gave reasons the company considered legitimate, such as being the medical director of a hospice.

In addition to the 36 providers whose prescribing privileges were initially revoked, several more have been suspended as the company continues its investigation.

“This isn’t a definitive solution to the problem,” said CVS Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan. “We wanted to share what it was that we did and have other people in healthcare, including other pharmacies, look at what we did and discuss what some more comprehensive solutions might be.”

In September 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration revoked the licenses to dispense controlled substances for two CVS pharmacies in Florida, after accusing them of dispensing excessive amounts of oxycodone.

5 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of ginbug
    ginbug / September 7, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Did they ever think that maybe the doc is perscribing so much is because he has a lot of patients in pain that cannot get treatment at any other doc because of fear? The way that CVS & most other pharmacies is dealing with this issue is not only morally wrong, it is putting innocent lives in very real danger!! The public is being mislead & right down lied to. Yes, there are people that are abusing these meds and yes there are docs that are taking advantage; but it is NOT the huge “epidemic” that they claim. As a matter of fact, the 16,500 people they say are dying each year is a tiny amount when compared to many other causes of death that no one seems worried about! For example,
    Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. Each year in the United States alone, it is responsible for:
    • An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are current non-smokers
    • About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults
    • Worse asthma and asthma-related problems in up to 1 million asthmatic children
    • Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (lung and bronchus) in children under 18 months of age, with 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year
    • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are much more likely to be put into intensive care when they have the flu, they are in the hospital longer, and are more likely to need breathing tubes than kids who aren’t exposed to SHS
    .

  2. Michael Sheehan / September 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    A pharmacy does not have any authority to “revoke prescribing priveleges” of any prescriber, so that headline is misleading and inappropriate. The DEA can revoke scheduled substance provider priveleges, and the state can revoke license to practice. Fortunately the pharmacists are better able to judge a physician’s prescribing habits than most others and CVS’s attempt to self monitor has put pressure on pharmacists to do this now. CVS appears to have done an impressive job, identifying outlier prescribers and inviting dialogue about their habits. Refusing to fill the physician scripts if appropriate explanation is not forthcoming appears appropriate to me and will help to improve relationships between legitimate physicians and pharmacists and keep our patients safe from unscrupulous prescribers. Good start to adressing a complex problem.

  3. Avatar of tdrake
    tdrake / September 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I think it meant they revoke the prescribing privileges they had at CVS it would not affect whatever other pharmacies they had privileges with

  4. Avatar of meltee
    meltee / September 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    How can a private corporation revoke script writing privileges of state licensed physicians?

  5. Avatar of Tracy
    Tracy / October 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    “As a matter of fact, the 16,500 people they say are dying each year is a tiny amount when compared to many other causes of death that no one seems worried about! For example,
    Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways.”

    You can’t honestly think that no one seems concerned about the number of deaths caused by secondhand smoke. States have begun to declare smoking in public a violation of the law. That’s pretty significant when looking for demonstration of what people care about.

    Regardless, 16,500 people is not a “tiny amount” in terms of preventable death. Perhaps it would not seem so “tiny” if that statistic included the preventable death of your entire family.

    “Did they ever think that maybe the doc is perscribing so much is because he has a lot of patients in pain that cannot get treatment at any other doc because of fear?”

    The article states that they did take into account different reasons for high prescribing numbers and found that there were legitimate reasons.

    “The public is being mislead & right down lied to. Yes, there are people that are abusing these meds and yes there are docs that are taking advantage; but it is NOT the huge “epidemic” that they claim.”

    I would encourage people do their own research before they buy into any claim made by professional researchers or random commentors. Look for previous years statistics…is there a steady increase? If there is then that is concerning. Measures need to be taken to stop or minimize growing numbers. Typically, it is a rise in devasting consequences which causes this type of action. What else can happen? Nothing?

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