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CVS Stops Filling Painkiller Prescriptions By 'Outlier' Doctors

CVS
Rhode-Island-based CVS says it has stopped filling prescriptions for painkillers from doctors who are over-prescribing to an extreme.

CVS began reviewing opioid prescriptions from its almost one million prescribers last fall.

The company found 42 doctors and nurse practitioners who stood out, and shut off 36 who couldn't or wouldn't explain why. CVS Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan says the pharmacy hopes to help curb addiction and overdose deaths.

"The outliers were in these circumstances prescribing, 20, 30, up to 50 times as much pain medication as the average prescriber was," he said. "These were really high outliers."

Brennan, in today's New England Journal of Medicine, urges creation of a national prescription database, but some patients worry that expanded monitoring will cut access for legitimate needs.

In April, CVS paid $11 million to settle civil claims that it violated federal drug recording, tracking and dispensing requirements in Oklahoma. CVS says it has new policies in place to deal with the drug cited by the DEA, pseudoephedrine, and is careful with all drugs that can be abused. The company says it does not know of any other pharmacy chain that is analyzing prescription records for signs of abuse.

This program aired on August 21, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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