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Which Drug is Prescribed Most in America?
The interactive map below uses data from Propublica’s Prescriber Checkup Tool to visualize geographical differences in prescribing patterns. Click on each state to learn which drug is prescribed most-frequently to Medicare Part D beneficiaries in that state. Refer to our color legend to identify the states and regions where each drug tallied the most Medicare claims.
Examining Part D: The Drug Doctors Prescribe Most in Every U.S. State
An analysis of Medicare Part D claims data reveals problematic prescribing patterns.
Medicare’s prescription drug program covers more than 41 million seniors and disabled adults living in the US. Known as Part D, the program began in 2006 and has received high marks from patients. But some medical experts say the program places a higher priority on getting prescriptions into patients’ hands than on weeding out doctors’ problematic prescribing behavior. The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general has repeatedly called for tighter controls.
A Failure to Oversee Part D
Back in 2013, ProPublica documented how Medicare’s failure to oversee Part D effectively permitted problematic prescribers to continue their practices and stood by as the program wasted billions of dollars on needlessly expensive drugs. As a result of this shoddy oversight, billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted due to excessive use of brand-name medication and overmedicating older Americans.
Narcotic Painkiller Use Among Older Adults
A report released earlier this month by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found that heavy opioid use and abuse continues to plague Medicare Part D. The report’s findings are consistent with prescription drug data obtained by ProPublica suggesting that narcotic painkiller use is widespread among older adults enrolled in Medicare Part D.
Data released in early July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate there are wide geographic differences in opioid prescribing patterns and some U.S. states are more affected than others. Alabama and Mississippi, for example, are where the highest proportion of Medicare patients taking prescription painkillers reside — more than 45 percent of Medicare enrollees in these states are prescribed opioids.
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