A report of Medicare’s drug program released June 20 found 736 doctors nationwide who habitually wrote prescriptions for elderly and disabled patients in highly questionable and potentially harmful ways. From nearly 2,200 doctors whose problematic records stood out, these 736 doctors were identified by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as “very extreme”.
In the report, Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson says that Medicare should do more to investigate or stop these bad actors. Medicare’s prescription drug program was started in 2006 and accounts for about one of every four drugs dispensed nationwide.
The pressing need to address prescription drug fraud and abuse is evident from this report. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, more people die of drug overdoses (38,329) than from either fatal car crashes (35,498), or from firearms (31,672) in the United States. Sixty percent of those overdoses involve prescription drugs.