Medicare patients in the state appear to be much less likely to overuse problematic prescription drugs, including opioid pain medications and antibiotics, than people in the mainland United States.
A comprehensive analysis of drug company spending on doctors in the last five months of 2013 shows the most-promoted products typically were not cures, breakthroughs, or top sellers.
Despite warnings about abuse, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than it did in 2011. The program’s top prescribers often have faced disciplinary action or criminal charges related to their medical practices.
Medicare paid for more than 200 million office visits for established patients in 2012. Overall, health professionals classified only four percent as complex enough to command the most expensive rates. But 1,800 providers billed at the top level at least 90 percent of the time. Experts question whether the charges are legitimate.