THE MAGAZINE

Prescription fraud

Besides the effect that drug abuse can have on family, business, and friends, prescription fraud bilks Medicaid and insurance companies out of rightful payments. When doctors and pharmacists are duped, it taints their reputation and may expose them to legal or professional sanctions. A recent addition to the Problem-Specific Guide Series of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) explains the problem of prescription fraud and identifies tactics, offenders, and abused drugs. It also helps communities deal with their local prescription-fraud problem. One strategy praised by some law enforcement agencies, task forces, and pharmacy associations is sharing information on prescription-fraud scams. For example, Albuquerque and San Diego use FaxAlert to notify doctors, pharmacies, and medical clinics of drug diversion, and police in Abington, Pennsylvania, distribute fliers describing scams and containing a photo of the suspect or a copy of the fraudulent prescription. Other approaches include using tamper-resistant prescription pads, assigning security codes to doctors, and requiring that pharmacists check photo IDs. The guide--written by a research associate at the Urban Institute and a crime analyst coordinator for the San Diego District Attorney's Office--is available via SM Online.

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