A new study shows that pharmacy shopping is one of the biggest causes of narcotic painkiller overdose. According to the study almost half of all the fatal narcotic painkiller overdose cases in the USA involved patients on Medicaid, a government funded health program, and these patients used multiple pharmacies to fill prescriptions. Using more than one pharmacy at the same time is called pharmacy shopping, and this allows patients to obtain more of the narcotic painkiller than they actually need. Many medicaid programs have started tracking recipients to determine how many pharmacies are used in order to try and prevent pharmacy shopping and narcotic painkiller overdoses. One way to prevent this practice is to limit Medicaid patients to a single pharmacy and medical professional, that way all of the drugs prescribed are identified by these providers and abuse of narcotic painkillers can be minimized.
In order to prevent pharmacy shopping and lower the risk of abuse and narcotic painkiller overdose some medical clinics require patients to sign a contract that identifies a single medical practice or care provider and a single pharmacy to be used. These contracts can provide some success, but they are not really legally binding and nothing is really preventing the patient from going to another doctor or pharmacy in order to obtain the drugs being sought. Some are calling for reimbursement limitation in the Medicaid programs, so that the health coverage will not pay for other doctors or pharmacies unless this can be shown to be absolutely necessary for some reason. This approach could be very beneficial in preventing pharmacy shopping and narcotic painkiller overdoses.