New Hampshire Medicaid patients more likely to 'doctor shop' for opioids

October 06, 2015

More than 27,000 Medicaid patients in New Hampshire were prescribed opioids from 2010 to 2013, with more than half receiving the drugs from a single healthcare provider, and 80% filling just one prescription. However, hundreds of beneficiaries obtained opioids from six or more prescribers in a single year. Opioid addiction has claimed more than 550 lives in the state since January 2014. Medicaid beneficiaries are twice as likely to receive prescription narcotics then non-Medicaid patients, and account for a significant amount of opioid use in New Hampshire. According to data on eight common painkillers prescribed from 2010 to 2103:

  • A total of 220,643 opioid prescriptions were written by more than 7,200 doctors, nurses and other providers;
  • 14.6 million individual doses were prescribed, 70% of which contained oxycodone;
  • Medicaid spent $15.7 million on prescription painkillers; and
  • Spending on the anti-addiction drug buprenorphine increased 23%, to $2.3 million in 2013.

The data predates New Hampshire's prescription-drug monitoring program, which went live a year ago and allows a patient's history of opioid prescriptions to be shared electronically by doctors, nurses and pharmacists.