CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia Board of Pharmacy committee has identified 176 patients who could be "doctor shopping" for prescription drugs.
These patients have received pain medication prescriptions from at least 13 doctors over the past 12 months.
The committee recently warned medical professionals across the state that their patients could be "doctor shoppers." More than 2,500 letters were sent to medical professionals urging them to check a multistate database to see whether their patients have obtained prescriptions from other medical professionals, The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1lqmKG9) reported.
All West Virginia medical professionals who write prescriptions must register their names with the Controlled Substance Monitoring Program database.
"Our goal is to reduce the doctor shoppers," Mike Goff, an administrator at the pharmacy board, told the newspaper. "A lot of these people are getting through the cracks because not everybody is using the monitoring program regularly."
Law enforcement agencies also have been notified about dozens of people who visited an excessive number of doctors who wrote prescriptions for pain medication, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Police will investigate to determine whether there was a legitimate reason for the prescriptions, said Goff, who oversees the monitoring program.
"You can't, just because it looks bad, go in and arrest someone," he said.
Goff said the committee plans to review controlled-substance prescriptions at least every six months. Drug-related deaths also will be examined.
"We're encouraging the use of the monitoring program because we believe that the more people who use it the less folks will be able to get these excessive prescriptions," he said. "If the prescribers, as well as the pharmacists who fill the prescriptions ... if everyone looked at the monitoring program, it would be really tough for a person to go in and get multiple, overlapping prescriptions."
West Virginia pharmacies fill more than 5 million prescriptions for controlled substances — mostly narcotics — each year.
The pharmacy board upgraded the monitoring program in July 2013, following the Legislature's approval of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's substance abuse bill aimed at reducing West Virginia's prescription painkiller epidemic.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com