CVS bans doctors “over-prescribing” pain meds

August 23, 2013

In response to the federal crackdown on Rx fraud, CVS Caremark has told physicians it believes overprescribe controlled substances to take their business elsewhere.

In response to the federal crackdown on Rx fraud, CVS Caremark has told physicians it believes overprescribe controlled substances to take their business elsewhere.

CVS, in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial, last week announced it will no longer do business with more than 36 doctors and other healthcare providers it found to be prescribing painkillers at unusually high rates.

The move by CVS follows Walgreens’ decision to force its pharmacists to verify certain prescriptions with doctors before filling them. That move upset consumers who must wait longer to fill certain Rxs and the American Medical Association, which considers the verification process an intrusion.

"This isn't a definitive solution to the problem," Troyen Brennan, CVS’ chief medical officer, told Reuters. "We wanted to share what it was that we did and have other people in healthcare, including other pharmacies, look at what we did and discuss what some more comprehensive solutions might be."

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has targeted large pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens, and distributors such as Cardinal Health, which it believes have contributed to the opioid overdose epidemic. Earlier this year, Walgreens agreed to pay $80 million to settle charges that sloppy record-keeping and dispensing allowed drugs to be illegally diverted. And, last September, DEA revoked the controlled substance licenses of two CVS stores.

CVS conducted an analysis of hydrocodone, oxycodone, alprazolam, methadone, and carisoprodol Rxs brought to its stores between March 2010 and January 2012. After identifying prescribers with “extreme patterns of prescribing high-risk drugs,” CVS checked the prescription rates of the prescribers versus those of other providers in the same specialty and geographic region, the ages of the patients, and the number of patients paying with cash for the drugs.

Those prescribers were given the opportunity to justify their prescription rates. Those who could not do so to CVS’ satisfaction were told the chain would no longer honor their prescriptions.