News release

Nation Must Close Large Gaps And Better Coordinate Fighting Prescription-Drug Abuse

4/8/2013

ORLANDO, April 8, 2013 — Huge gaps still exist in forging a cohesive national effort by government, the medical community, insurers and consumers to turn the corner on America’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud warned at a national summit on the problem last week.

prescription-pill-abuse2“Progress is being made in preventing and detecting prescription abuse, but this national epidemic drains insurance systems of tens of billions of dollars each year,” said Dennis Jay, executive director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

Those sentiments were echoed by varied experts meeting this week at the second annual Rx Drug Abuse Summit held in Orlando. Summit attendance topped more than 800, according to sponsors.

Jay's remarks came during a panel session on the cost of prescription drug abuse. Other panelists included a drug prosecutor, state health commissioner and CEO of a national anti-drug coalition.

“The financial impact of drug diversion goes beyond the face value of drugs that are stolen. Ancillary costs exact a toll as well,” Jay said.

In addition to paying billions in claims each year, insurers also spend millions of dollars on investigation and technology to detect drug fraud. And insurers pay for growing numbers of drug-store robberies and the hijacking of drug shipments on our highways, he said.

Abusers of painkillers are especially costly to the system, he said, citing non-drug inpatient costs, emergency room visits, diagnostic testing and rehab.

“Opioids abusers on average cost America’s healthcare system $14,000 more than other patients.” The record number of babies born to addicted mothers — many who need special care — also burden healthcare systems.

Prescription drug abuse and fraud also destroys lives, fractures communities and drains billions of dollars from insurers. On the positive side, “data suggest the problem may be leveling off thanks to greater public awareness and better detection by government and insurers,” Jay said.

But recent budget cutbacks by some states could reverse recent gains in getting a handle on this epidemic.

Other speakers included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and four members of Congress.

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