Drug addicts, dealers are 'doctor shopping' for pain pills - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Drug addicts, dealers are 'doctor shopping' for pain pills

Updated:
  • More NewsMore>>

  • Remembering Idora Park over the years

    Remembering Idora Park over the years

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:44:21 GMT
    This Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary of the devastating fire that led to the closing of the Idora Amusement Park. Glenn Stevens took a look back at Idora Park's history and the memories it made for generations. More >>
    This Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary of the devastating fire that led to the closing of the Idora Amusement Park. Glenn Stevens took a look back at Idora Park's history and the memories it made for generations. More >>
  • Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere talks about hostage situation

    Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere talks about hostage situation

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:29:48 GMT
    Following the five hour hostage situation at the Trumbull County jail that ended with the safe release of a corrections guard taken hostage by 3 inmates, Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere spoke to 21 News.More >>
    Following the five hour hostage situation at the Trumbull County jail that ended with the safe release of a corrections guard taken hostage by 3 inmates, Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere spoke to 21 News.More >>
  • GM ships kits to repair ignition in recalled cars

    GM ships kits to repair ignition in recalled cars

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:27 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:27:38 GMT
    General Motors says it has shipped thousands of kits consisting of ignition switches, ignition cylinders and key sets for older model small cars subject to a safety recall.According to a notice posted Wednesday on the General Motors corporate website, letters were mailed last week to about 1.4 million owners of 2003-2007 models telling them to contact a GM dealer to make an appointment for repairs, which GM says should take about 90 minutes. Wait times may be longer depending on the busyness ...More >>
    General Motors says it has shipped thousands of kits consisting of ignition switches, ignition cylinders and key sets for older model small cars subject to a safety recall.According to a notice posted Wednesday on the General Motors corporate website, letters were mailed last week to about 1.4 million owners of 2003-2007 models telling them to contact a GM dealer to make an appointment for repairs, which GM says should take about 90 minutes. Wait times may be longer depending on the busyness ...More >>

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- One of every 50 prescriptions for addictive prescription painkillers in the United States is filled for so-called "doctor shoppers" who obtain the drugs for recreational use or resale on the street, a new study finds.

Although doctor shoppers make up less than 1 percent of all patients who bought painkillers in 2008, they purchased an estimated 4.3 million prescriptions for opioid drugs such as Oxycontin or Vicodin, the researchers found. That amounts to about 4 percent of all of this class of narcotic sold by weight that year.

"There's a hole in our prescription control system in the United States," concluded study co-author Douglas McDonald, a researcher with Abt Associates Inc., a think-tank located in Cambridge, Mass. "Lacking a universal health record, doctors have to rely on what patients tell them about what they've been prescribed by other doctors."

That means that "doctor shoppers can get multiple prescriptions for the same drug if they lie to their physician," he said.

The study, published July 17 in the journal PLoS One, constitutes the first national estimate of doctor shopping in the nation, the authors said.

Abuse of prescription medications has become a serious threat to public health in recent years. Between 1995 and 2011, admissions to emergency departments for opioid misuse increased about 10-fold, the authors noted in background information. Opioid overdose deaths rose from about 4,000 in 1999 to more than 16,600 in 2010 and are now twice as common as heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined.

"It is a public health epidemic, and we don't really have a system in place to mitigate this or prevent it," McDonald said.

In the study, he and his colleagues analyzed a nationwide sample of more than 146 million opioid prescriptions dispensed during 2008. Besides Oxycontin and Vicodin, opioids include morphine, Percocet and Dilaudid.

One of every 143 patients who purchased opioid painkillers received a suspiciously large number of prescriptions from multiple prescribers, researchers found. On average, these patients used 32 prescriptions from 10 different doctors to obtain painkillers.

Some states have adopted prescription drug monitoring programs, but the patchwork nature of these efforts has rendered them ineffective, said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Shoppers simply go from doctor to doctor and pharmacy to pharmacy until they receive the prescription they want and have it filled, Pasierb said. And because the monitoring programs function at the state level, all they have to do is cross state lines to avoid detection.

"I could have gotten a prescription in Portland yesterday, and then come to Connecticut and get another prescription," Pasierb said.

These monitoring programs also rely on doctors to access the data and use it when writing out a prescription.

"The data are there, but the physician has to pick up the phone and ask if the patient they are about to see already has a prescription," study co-author McDonald said. "The existing system relies on physicians adding that extra step to their fast-paced work schedule."

On top of that, some doctor shoppers have adopted very sophisticated techniques. "There are patients who have doctored MRI results, they go from doctor to doctor and show this falsified MRI record that shows they have a bone spur in their neck and they are in intense pain," McDonald said. "Addicts in general can be extremely good manipulators when they want to get their drugs."

Pasierb said for a prescription-monitoring program to truly be effective, it will have to be a nationwide network receiving prescription data from all states in real time. In addition, doctors would need to be legally required to use it.

Absent that, physicians can help prevent doctor shopping by screening new patients for their risk of abuse and by monitoring patients' adherence to prescribed treatments, the study's authors wrote.

"They need to do a better job screening, but they don't have the tools," Pasierb said of physicians. "Most doctors get no education in medical school about addiction. Their oath is to help this person, but they don't want to be the inspector general. They are time-challenged and they are loath to challenge patients."

More information

There's more on addiction to prescription painkillers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • Restaurant plans new statue of Joe Paterno

    Restaurant plans new statue of Joe Paterno

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:57:56 GMT
     (AP) - Fans of the late Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno are planning to commission a new bronze statue of him, and place it across from the school. Organizers say the statue will feature Paterno sitting on a bench reading. It's expected to cost about $300,000 and would hopefully be done in 2015 by Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers says the school isn't involved in the plan. But a restaurant owner in downtown State Col...More >>
     (AP) - Fans of the late Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno are planning to commission a new bronze statue of him, and place it across from the school. Organizers say the statue will feature Paterno sitting on a bench reading. It's expected to cost about $300,000 and would hopefully be done in 2015 by Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers says the school isn't involved in the plan. But a restaurant owner in downtown State Col...More >>
  • Woman allegedly sold heroin from hospital bed

    Woman allegedly sold heroin from hospital bed

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:01 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:01:45 GMT
    A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room.More >>
    A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room.More >>
  • Jet stowaway undetected for hours before departure

    Jet stowaway undetected for hours before departure

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:44:25 GMT
    Surveillance cameras at San Jose International Airport successfully captured the teenager on the tarmac, climbing up the landing gear of a jet. But in the end, the cameras failed because no one noticed the security...More >>
    A 15-year-old stowaway who survived a flight over the Pacific in a jet's wheel well spent seven hours undetected in what is supposed to be a highly secure area of San Jose International Airport before the flight...More >>
  • Hot ClicksHot ClicksMore>>

  • Can an app save the planet?

    Can an app save the planet?

    This startup's Earth Day launch has a massive goal: Cut carbon emissions globally. It has its work cut out for it.
    More >>
    This startup's Earth Day launch has a massive goal: Cut carbon emissions globally. It has its work cut out for it.
    More >>
  • 'Captain America' holds onto top box office spot

    'Captain America' holds onto top box office spot

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:47 PM EDT2014-04-22 02:47:39 GMT
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Captain America really is unbeatable - at least at the box office"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" has been the top draw at theaters for three consecutive weeks, vanquishing would-be foes including the new thriller starring Johnny Depp.According to Monday's final box office figures, the Marvel sequel added $25.6 million in ticket sales over the weekend. "The Winter Soldier" has made more than $200 million domestically since logging the best April opening in history."Hea...More >>
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Captain America really is unbeatable - at least at the box office"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" has been the top draw at theaters for three consecutive weeks, vanquishing would-be foes including the new thriller starring Johnny Depp.According to Monday's final box office figures, the Marvel sequel added $25.6 million in ticket sales over the weekend. "The Winter Soldier" has made more than $200 million domestically since logging the best April opening in history."Hea...More >>
  • Netflix poised to raise prices after strong 1Q

    Netflix poised to raise prices after strong 1Q

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-04-22 02:37:26 GMT
    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Netflix is preparing a sequel unlikely to be a hit with its subscribers. The Internet video service is about to raise its prices for the first time in three years to help pay for more Internet video programming such as its popular political drama "House of Cards."The increase, to take place sometime before July, will hike prices by $1 or $2 per month for new customers. The company's nearly 36 million current subscribers will continue to pay $8 per month for at least the n...More >>
    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Netflix is preparing a sequel unlikely to be a hit with its subscribers. The Internet video service is about to raise its prices for the first time in three years to help pay for more Internet video programming such as its popular political drama "House of Cards."The increase, to take place sometime before July, will hike prices by $1 or $2 per month for new customers. The company's nearly 36 million current subscribers will continue to pay $8 per month for at least the n...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms