The government is cracking down on Medicare prescription painkiller drug fraud. Health authorities are instructing Medicare prescription drug plans to withhold payments for popular painkillers when they suspect abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services noted evidence of “doctor shopping.” It also encouraged physicians to issue prescriptions for drugs like OxyContin and Percocet for a 30 day or less supply of pills.
The Government Accountability Office learned that in 2008, about 170,000 Medicare recipients received prescriptions from five or more physicians for frequently abused drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. They incurred about $148 million dollars in prescription drug costs, much of which is paid for by the federal government.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 15,000 Americans died from prescription pain pill overdoses in 2008. Prescription pain pill abuse is responsible for more deaths in the United States than illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin combined.