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Study Estimates that 4.3 Million Prescriptions for Painkillers Were Diverted to Illicit Use by "Doctor Shoppers"
Date:7/17/2013

ceiving their prescribers rather than receiving badly coordinated care for legitimate medical conditions. 

States have created prescription drug monitoring programs to collect sales records of drugs that pose a high risk of abuse, but many physicians do not access these prescription histories before writing patients' prescriptions.  "Physicians and other healthcare providers are the front lines of defense against deceptive patients who use these drugs for non-medical purposes, but many of them lack the time and the tools to determine if a patient is abusing opioids," said Douglas McDonald, the study's lead author.

The researchers write that physicians could prevent doctor shopping by screening new patients for their risk of abuse and by monitoring patients' adherence to prescribed treatments. Moreover, they recommend that prescription monitoring programs and insurers scan prescription data to flag purchasing patterns indicative of possible doctor shopping and then alert physicians and pharmacists about these patients.   

The study, "Estimating the Prevalence of Opioid Diversion by "Doctor Shoppers" in the United States," was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and is available online at PLOS ONE, http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069241

About Abt Associates 
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators.  The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 cou
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