Colorado warns pharmacies of potential ‘doctor shoppers’

Photo: OxyContin prescription drug pills (AP Photo)
The U.S. government considers OxyContin, a prescription drug, to have a "high potential for abuse."

600 notices to medical facilities where some people may be trying to abuse their prescription medications by quickly filing duplicate prescriptions in multiple places. The abuse is also known as "doctor-shopping."

New legislation signed earlier this year by Gov. John Hickenlooper allows the state to use information from the state's prescription drug monitoring program, to send "push notices" to pharmacies where abuse may be occurring.

“For our pharmacists and for our prescribers, the message is please check the prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing or refilling prescriptions for painkillers,” says Lauren Larson, director of the division of professions and occupations.

The prescription drug monitoring program allows certified professionals to access a secure database of controlled substance prescriptions that have been filled by registered Colorado pharmacies.

In the last 12 years, deaths from opioid overdoses have quadrupled in Colorado, and now surpass those from drunk-driving related crashes, Larson says.

In one case of abuse, someone was able to get more than 1,600 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills from multiple prescribers and pharmacies in one month, according to the Department of Regulatory Agencies. In another, a patient got prescriptions from 11 prescribers and 10 drug stores in a month.

According to Larson, other states, like New York, have implemented such "push notices" and seen a 74 percent decline in doctor shopping,