Tuesday, December 09, 2014

One-third of doctor shoppers travel out of state to purchase prescription drugs, study says

About one-third of all prescription drug abusers travel out of state to shop for a doctor, says a study funded by the National Institutes of Health published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. This is because "many states have drug monitoring programs in place to track prescriptions dispensed within their borders—but not across them," Jason Millman reports for The Washington Post.

Douglas McDonald of Abt Associates, who co-authored the study, told Millman, "Part of the problem is that state systems all vary—they're either home-grown or operated by different vendors, and they're not interoperable." As a result, smaller states like Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Delaware are having some of the highest rates of occurrences, with drug shoppers making the trek from neighboring states to buy prescription drugs.

Several states have begun combatting the problem by entering into agreements with each other, Millman writes. But only a small percentage of prescription drug users are doctor shoppers. According to 2008 data, only one out of every 143 prescription drug abusers shop for doctors—about 0.7 percent of all patients—but they purchase four percent of all prescription drugs. (Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety map: County-level data from 2008 of doctor shoppers)

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