With an estimated 78 opioid-related deaths per day nationwide, policymakers, journalists and the public are sounding the alarm on overprescribing of narcotic painkillers.
Reporters covering the opioid crisis might want to look at state efforts to track opioid prescribing by physicians. State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases that gather information from pharmacies on controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs are potentially powerful disincentives for overprescribing, according to a recent study. Continue reading
Last week, I shook the medicine bottle and felt just a few pills left. At the same time, weather forecasters were tracking hurricane making its way toward the eastern United States. I picked up the phone, called the 800-number on the bottle, punched in my prescription number and my refill was on its way. My biggest worry, as I eyed the last few pills clinking at the bottom, was whether this storm would somehow delay the delivery.
I know, I know: first-world problems. I was thinking about that as I read Aaron Carroll’s viral piece on his prescription refill ordeal. Continue reading
Reporters curious about the financial relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical companies can use publicly available data as a starting point – although that comes with some caveats, journalists and industry leaders say.
During the workshop “Covering prescription drug data,” Charles Ornstein, ProPublica senior reporter, pointed out resources that ProPublica has created that reporters can use to write stories about doctors in their communities. Continue reading
A new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project documents the wide variations of use of drug therapies by Medicare patients across the U.S., shedding additional light on how geography plays an important role in quality and cost of care.
Dartmouth researchers also find that the health status of a region’s Medicare population accounts for less than a third of the variation in total prescription drug use, and that higher spending is not related to higher use of proven drug therapies. The study raises questions about whether regional practice culture explains
differences in the quality and quantity of prescription drug use.
For example, heart attack victims in Ogden, Utah, are twice as likely as those in Abeline, Texas, to be prescribed cholesterol lowering medication to reduce risk of another heart attack, an inconsistency which reflects how medicine is practiced in the United States, according to Jeffrey C. Munson, M.D., M.S.C.E., lead author and assistant professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. Continue reading
ProPublica’s Tracy Weber, Charles Ornstein and Jennifer LaFleur, in an analysis of Medicare prescription records, found that “some doctors and other health professionals across the country prescribe large quantities of drugs that are potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive,” with no attempt by the federal government to monitor or deter the practices.
“… officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say the job of monitoring prescribing falls to the private health plans that administer the program, not the government.”