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Raycom Stations Expose High Opioid Prescribers

Topic: Investigative Reporting
Date Posted: 4/30/2018

Raycom’s National Investigative Team, led by Fox affiliate WVUE-TV New Orleans Investigative Reporter Lee Zurik, produced “Licensed to Pill,” a three-part series on high opioid prescribers nationwide. A week after the story aired, federal agents raided the Tennessee office of the nation’s top opioid prescriber.

“One law enforcement officer told us that our data analysis gave him a new roadmap to investigate doctors,” Zurik said.

The series was offered to all Raycom’s stations, with each part available in three different lengths. The creative services department at CBS affiliate WAFB-TV Baton Rouge also created a tool kit for the series that stations could use and customize. Findings include:

  • Ten percent of America’s top 1,000 prescribers of opioids to Medicare patients are sanctioned.
  • Family physicians, nurse practitioners and doctors whose specialties focus on non-narcotic therapies are some of the most prolific prescribers. Federal guidelines say they should not prescribe opioids.
  • Some wrote prescriptions for so many opioids that patient’s daily supply exceeded, on average, the number of days in a year.
  • Dozens of doctors sanctioned by a state medical board for excessive prescribing still hold active licenses.
  • Non-cancer doctors are prescribing dangerous fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients, while taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a controversial drug maker.


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