West Virginia panel targets doctors, pharmacies linked to overdoses

December 29, 2014

During one six-month period, one West Virginia doctor wrote prescriptions linked to six drug-overdose deaths; nine other doctors wrote prescriptions linked to two or more overdose deaths.

During one six-month period, one West Virginia doctor wrote prescriptions linked to six drug-overdose deaths; nine other doctors wrote prescriptions linked to two or more overdose deaths.

Now, according to an article in the Charleston Gazette,  a West Virginia state panel is reviewing overdose deaths and plans to send law enforcement agencies the names of at least 27 doctors and 20 pharmacies. The names will also be referred to medical licensing boards and the state Board of Pharmacy.

Doctors writing fewer painkiller Rxs

“You’ll have the same doctor with several patients dying of an overdose with the drug he prescribed,” David Potters, the pharmacy board’s executive director, told the newspaper. “There’s reasonable cause to look at it more closely.”

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose rate in the country. Back in 2013, West Virginia state legislators passed a bill aimed at curbing the epidemic. Part of the bill was the establishment of a panel that closely scrutinized prescription drug overdoses.

Not all doctors who wrote prescriptions linked to drug overdoses will be referred to law enforcement officials. Some will receive educational letters that urge them to use caution when prescribing. “Maybe they didn’t prescribe anything that, alone, was terrible,” Potters said. “Or it wasn’t illegal or improper to prescribe the drugs, but they get a letter saying please use the utmost of care and make sure they’re not getting anything else from other prescribers.”

Pharmacists who are suspected of dispensing scripts that should not have been filled will have their names sent to the pharmacy board, but not to law enforcement officials. They will also receive letters from the panel.

“If [people who overdosed] went to multiple doctors and got multiple prescriptions that they ended up dying from, but the one pharmacy filled all the prescriptions, that’s going to be a red flag,” Mike Goff, who administers the state’s drug monitoring program, told the newspaper.