Brown cracks down on doctor shopping

Legal News Line Sep. 30, 2008, 1:55pm

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown said a crackdown on rampant prescription drug fraud has turned up fifty abusers who average more than 100 doctor and pharmacy visits seeking huge quantities of addictive drugs like Valium, Vicodin and Oxycontin.

Brown launched the investigation in June, ordering California Department of Justice special agents to begin a statewide search for the most aggressive prescription drug addicts. Dozens of suspects have been arrested, he said on Tuesday.

"These prescription drug addicts are abusing the system," Brown said, "draining time and money from hundreds of doctors and pharmacies who are there to help real sick people, not con artists."

In a statement issued Tuesday by the attorney general's office, Frankie Greer became the poster-child for abuse. Greer, the attorney general's office stated, visited 183 doctors and 47 pharmacies seeking dangerous painkillers to fuel his addiction. The 53-year-old woman was prescribed thousands of medications over a one-year period.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20 to 30 percent of the state's drug abusers rely primarily on prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug abuse estimated that 48 million Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Non-medical drug use accounts for about a half a million emergency room visits in California, according to Brown's office.

"We want to end these dangerous cycles of fraud and abuse," Brown said

.Brown's investigation was assisted by the state's database, the attorney general's office said. The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System contains 86 million entries for prescription drugs dispensed in California.

"Doctors and insurance companies should be on the alert," Brown said. "We are aggressively pursuing the top prescription drug abusers, and we're also making it easier for doctors to verify health history information provided by new patients. We encourage insurance companies to develop a similar system for protecting themselves against prescription drug fraud."

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California Department of Justice
1300 I St
Sacramento, CA 95814

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