An investigation in 2008, by the Government of Accountability Office, found approximately 170,000 Medicare recipients with suspicious prescription-use patterns. The study identified 14 frequently abused medications and found that patients were “doctor shopping” in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for the powerful drugs. For example, a Medicare recipient in Georgia was able to obtain a prescription for 3,655 oxycodone pills by visiting 58 different providers.
Taxpayers are responsible for three-fourths of the cost of the Medicare prescription drug program. The cost of the program is nearly $55 billion a year. In 2008, the cost of the suspicious prescriptions totaled $148 million. Currently, federal law does not allow Medicare to limit the access of beneficiaries with suspicious prescription-use patterns. However, Medicare acknowledges the abuse of the prescription drug program and is looking for ways to prevent the abuse.