U.S. attorney flags over 300 Pa. doctors for opioid prescriptions

This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (Patrick Sison/AP Photo)

This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (Patrick Sison/AP Photo)

The U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania’s Middle District has flagged more than 300 doctors for potentially overprescribing opioids.

The office sent them letters that “informed each of the providers that their opioid prescribing patterns for Medicare Part D patients appear to be significantly different from peers within the same medical specialties,” according to a news release.

“It may be specifically related to their type of practice, or it may be related to some sloppy prescribing practices,” said U.S. Attorney David Freed, who led the inquiry.

In some cases, doctors were prescribing drugs to people who were also getting them from three or more other physicians, Freed said. The letters are partly an effort to educate doctors who may not be making use of resources such as the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, which can help them to prevent people from “doctor shopping.”

Freed, who previously served as Cumberland County’s district attorney, emphasized that he is following up on some cases but has made no determination that any prescribers on this list have broken the law.

His office has pressed charges against doctors in the past, and in 2018 charged one doctor with drug delivery resulting in death.

While his inquiry is focused on Pennsylvania’s 33 county middle district, other U.S. Attorneys are considering similar efforts, Freed said.

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