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Chua KP, Brummett CM, Conti RM, Haffajee RL, Prosser LA, Bohnert ASB. Assessment of Prescriber and Pharmacy Shopping Among the Family Members of Patients Prescribed Opioids. JAMA Network Open. 2019 May 3; 2(5):e193673.
Importance: Most prescription opioid misuse involves opioids prescribed to others-a form of opioid diversion. However, few indicators of diversion risk exist. Because family members can often access patients' opioids, one such indicator may be the frequency with which opioid prescriptions are filled by patients when their family members are engaged in opioid prescriber and pharmacy shopping ("doctor and pharmacy shopping"). To date, this frequency has not been estimated. Objective: To estimate the proportion of opioid prescription fills for which family members meet prescriber and pharmacy shopping criteria. Design, Setting, and Participants: A cross-sectional analysis of 2015-2016 claims from a national commercial insurer was conducted from August to October, 2018. The sample included patients without cancer who were covered by family insurance plans and had 1 or more opioid prescription fill in 2016, as measured by prescription drug claims. Fills were the unit of analysis. Main Outcomes and Measures: For each fill in 2016 by the patient and each family member enrolled in the same plan (eg, spouse or child), the number of prescribers and number of pharmacies in the prior 12 months were counted. Prescriber and pharmacy shopping was defined as 4 or more prescribers and 4 or more pharmacies, following a National Quality Forum-endorsed measure. The proportion of fills for which 1 or more family member met criteria and the proportion for which the patient met criteria were calculated. Results: Among 554?417 patients in the sample, 301?297 (54.3%) were female and 48?047 (8.7%) were children. Mean (SD) age was 41.4 (16.4) years. Patients were enrolled in 469?913 plans and, after exclusions, filled 1?471?971 opioid prescriptions in 2016. For 8485 fills (0.6%), 1 or more family member met prescriber and pharmacy shopping criteria. For 44?547 fills (3.0%), the patient met criteria. For 6947 of the 8485 fills (81.9%) for which 1 or more family member met criteria, patients did not meet criteria. When criteria were 3 or more prescribers at 3 or more pharmacies, the proportion of fills for which 1 or more family member met criteria increased to 1.9%. Conclusions and Relevance: In this national study of US patients with private family insurance plans, 0.6% of opioid prescription fills occurred when at least 1 of the patient's family members met prescriber and pharmacy shopping criteria. For most of these fills, patients did not meet criteria. Findings suggest the potential for opioid diversion within families.