Doctor and pharmacy shoppers at increased risk for drug-related death

Published on September 7, 2012 at 12:48 AM · No Comments

A published study conducted by researchers at West Virginia University has found that doctor and pharmacy shoppers are at a greater risk for drug-related death.

Marie Abate, Pharm.D., professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy and faculty affiliate with the WVU Injury Control Research Center, was part of a team of researchers who explored prescription and drug-related death data to determine how many subjects visited multiple doctors and pharmacies to obtain medications.

The study examined information from the West Virginia Controlled Substance Monitoring Program (WV CSMP) and drug-related death data compiled by the Forensic Drug Database from July 2005 through December 2007. Of the more than one million subjects 18 years and older, 698 were categorized as deceased. Doctor shoppers accounted for about 25 percent of deceased subjects, while nearly 17.5 percent of the deceased were pharmacy shoppers.

In addition, approximately 20 percent of doctor shoppers were also pharmacy shoppers, and 55.6 percent of pharmacy shoppers were doctor shoppers. Younger age and greater number of prescriptions dispensed also contributed to having greater odds of drug-related death.

The article reporting this research, "Doctor and Pharmacy Shopping for Controlled Substances," appeared in the June 2012 issue of "Medical Care." It concludes that prescription monitoring programs may be useful in identifying potential shoppers at the point of care.

"The WV CSMP compiles data for each controlled substance prescription filled in the state," Dr. Abate said. "These programs currently exist in most states, and efforts are underway to create one large program that would compile the controlled substance prescription data from all participating states. Physicians can consult the CSMP to determine if a patient had recently filled other prescriptions, from different physicians, for the same drug or similar types of drugs."

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