The group’s investigative team produced Licensed to Pill, which analyzed the nation’s top 1,000 prescribers of opioids to Medicare patients and found just 10% had been sanctioned. A week after the story aired featuring the nation’s top opioid prescriber, federal agents raided his Tennessee office.
Raycom Media’s National Investigative Team uncovered many high opioid prescribers across the United States that have avoided scrutiny.
Licensed to Pill analyzed the nation’s top 1,000 prescribers of opioids to Medicare patients and found just 10% had ever been sanctioned. A week after the story aired featuring the nation’s top opioid prescriber, federal agents raided his Tennessee office.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Raycom Media’s Investigative Team spent months investigating 1,000 opioid prescribers in the Medicare Prescription Program (Part D). Among the team’s findings:
- Family physicians, nurse practitioners and doctors whose specialties focus on non-narcotic therapies are some of the nation’s most prolific opioid prescription writers in recent years. Federal guidelines say they shouldn’t be.
- Some wrote prescriptions for so many opioids that the patients’ daily supply of the pain-killing medication exceeded, on average, the number of days in a year.
- Dozens of doctors who had been previously sanctioned by a state medical board for excessive prescribing but continue to hold active licenses.
The investigation also revealed non-cancer doctors prescribing dangerous fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients. Many of those same doctors were also taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the controversial drug maker.
“One law enforcement officer told us that our data analysis gave him a new roadmap to investigate doctors,” said Director of Investigations Lee Zurik.
In addition to Zurik, the Raycom Media National Investigative Team includes Investigative Producer Jill Riepenhoff, Investigative Producer Megan Luther, and Executive Producer Andy Miller. Investigative Producer Tom Wright, Photographer Jon Turnipseed, and News Content Specialist Erin Snodgrass also contributed to these stories.
All of the “Licensed to Pill” stories can be found on www.licensedtopill.com.