CVS cuts access to opioid pain-killers for suspect doctors

Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:59pm EDT

Aug 21 (Reuters) - CVS Caremark Corp said on Wednesday that it has taken the unusual step of cutting off access to powerful pain-killers for more than 36 doctors and other healthcare providers found to prescribe the drugs at an alarmingly high rate.

The drugstore chain, which was drawn into a government crackdown on prescription painkiller abuse last year, began revoking the dispensing privileges of certain providers in late 2012, said CVS Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan.

"This isn't a definitive solution to the problem," Brennan told Reuters. "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."

CVS disclosed the suspensions in an article published on Wednesday on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Abuse of opioid prescription pain-killers like Oxycontin ranks as the No. 2 cause of accidental death in the United States, CVS said. In 2009, painkiller use was cited in more than 15,500 overdose deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has targeted large pharmacy chains like CVS and rival Walgreen Co, as well as distributors such as Cardinal Health, to stem the flow of prescription drugs where abuse is suspected.

The DEA revoked the controlled substance licenses of two CVS drugstores in Florida last September. In June, Walgreen reached a record $80 million settlement with the DEA to resolve allegations that its negligence in record-keeping and dispensing allowed the highly addictive drugs to reach abusers and be sold illegally.

Brennan said that CVS has not yet discussed its findings about suspect providers with the DEA or others.

CVS said the suspensions followed an analysis of prescriptions brought to its drugstores from March 2010 through January 2012 for hydrocodone, oxycodone, alprazolam, methadone and carisoprodol.

CVS said it first identified several dozen healthcare providers -- from a database of nearly 1 million -- with extreme patterns of prescribing high-risk drugs. CVS checked their prescription rates versus other providers in the same specialty and geographic region, the ages of the patients and the number of patients paying with cash for the drugs.

For instance, one "outlier prescriber" in the field of preventive medicine was prescribing on average more than 44,000 doses of high-risk drugs, compared with 662 for similar providers.

CVS asked 42 providers for more details about their prescribing habits. Six of those 42 gave what CVS said were legitimate reasons for the high volume of prescriptions, such as a medical director at a hospice prescribing pain-killers.

The company said its stores and its mail-order pharmacy will no longer dispense controlled substances for 36 providers who it said could not justify their prescribing habits. Brennan said that an additional "handful" have been suspended as the company continues its analysis.

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Comments (2)
ginbug wrote:
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?
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
• In the United States, the costs of extra medical care, illness, and death caused by SHS are over $10 billion per year
Keep in mind that this is just from secondhand smoke! So why are they still selling cigarettes? If you go by the justification they are using for opioids, then they should stop selling all tobacco products, all alcohol products, everything that contains tylenol & asprin,& everything that contains sugar, salt,& fat as each one of these things kill tons more people every year than opiates! Also PHARMACY ERRORS & MISTAKES kill at least 8x the amount of people than pain meds!! Pain meds are not even in the same hemisphere as anyone of the things I listed, yet you hear nothing about that! I wonder what they will do as the death toll for sick, legit pain patients that will die due to withdrawl shock & suicide because they get cut off their much needed meds all at once? Well if nothing changes very soon, we are going to see it for ourselves, I just hope I’m still around to see it!!! BOYCOTT CVS AND WALGREENS for their VIOLATION of HUMAN/CIVIL RIGHTS and CRUEL ABUSE of INNOCENT SICK PATIENTS!!!

Aug 23, 2013 2:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Barb1024 wrote:
The fault lies with the doctors who prescribe if they prescribe too many opioid pain killers, but lies with the DEA if they cut off access for those who really need these prescriptions for pain!

Aug 24, 2013 3:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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