Reducing Inappropriate Prescribing of Controlled Substances in the United States
Inappropriate prescriptions are a rising threat to the health of patients, particularly senior citizens. Overprescription can also increase health care expenditures due to the direct cost of the drugs and the resulting health care use caused by adverse outcomes. This randomized evaluation studies a low-cost, light-touch intervention aimed at reducing the inappropriate provision of Schedule II controlled substances, which carry particularly large risks for patients, in the Medicare Part D program. Potential overprescribers were sent a letter explaining that their practice patterns were highly unlike those of their peers. Using rich administrative data to measure outcomes, researchers found no evidence that the letters had an impact on prescribing rates. The results of this study and further learning about the potential of light-touch interventions will help produce a better toolkit for policymakers to improve the value and safety of health care.