Pharmacy Shopping Linked to Overdose

Many in the field of addiction are familiar with the term “doctor shopping,” the act of going to multiple doctors to obtain the multiple prescriptions of the same medication – such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone), a highly addictive opioid narcotic. While prescription drug monitoring programs have made it more difficult for addicts to engage in doctor shopping, it is still possible for people to engage in what’s called “pharmacy shopping” – using multiple pharmacies at the same time in order to obtain more medication than a patient needs.

A new study suggests that patients who engage in pharmacy shopping are at an increased risk of opioid overdose deaths, HealthDay reports. The researchers found that patients who used four pharmacies within 90 days had the highest risk of overdosing.

The records of more than 90,000 Medicaid recipients aged 18 to 64, who were long-term users of narcotic painkillers, were analyzed by researchers. The Medicaid patients involved in the research had used three or more narcotic prescriptions for 90 days from 2008 to 2010, according to the article.

The researchers point out that that there are legitimate reasons for using more than one pharmacy, such as:

  • Relocating
  • Traveling
  • Changes in Insurance Coverage

In many states, in order to deter prescription drug abuse, Medicaid programs track the number of pharmacies a patient visits, the article reports. When a patient’s pharmacy records are not tracked, it is possible to fill multiple prescriptions for the same drug. The overlapping of opioid prescriptions was associated with higher overdose rates.

The study authors note that it has not been determined how many pharmacies or how much time should occur between prescriptions, for a patient to be considered a pharmacy shopper.

The study is published in The Journal of Pain.

If you are currently struggling with opioid addiction, such as prescription drugs or heroin, and are in need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.