State medical boards are looking closely at doctors who have prescribed alarming amounts of Schedule 2 drugs. According to a December 15 report published by ProPublica, twelve of Medicare’s top 20 prescribers of Schedule 2 drugs in 2012 faced disciplinary action by their state medical boards. Another doctor had documents confiscated by federal authorities.
Dr. Shelinder Aggarwal of Alabama, for instance, prescribed more than 14,000 Schedule 2 prescriptions in 2012 – about 40 per day. The state medical board suspended Aggarwal’s controlled substances certificate the next year.
New York, Kentucky, and Tennessee have adopted new policies to try and curtail the issue of over-prescribing dangerous substances by requiring doctors to check databases that track every controlled substance prescribed to new patients in the state. According to the report, other states may soon follow suit.
Recent data suggests, however, that the crackdown hasn’t deterred irresponsible distribution of powerful narcotics. According to the ProPublica report, the number of prescriptions for some of the world’s most powerful and dangerous prescriptions has grown “ever larger.”
In 2012, the most recent year of available data, Medicare covered approximately 27 million prescriptions for “powerful narcotic painkillers,” up 9 percent from the year before. Morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl are among such narcotics being dispensed to millions of US citizens. These drugs are known to have an extremely high potential for dependency and abuse.
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