Abuse of prescription drugs exploding in Michigan

The state of Michigan is currently battling a spike in overdose deaths due to pain and anxiety medication abuse. Since the late 1990s the problem has increased dramatically and is viewed differently from other drug abuse because the medications are legal. For example, hydrocodone, an opiate, is the most commonly prescribed medication in Michigan. It was prescribed more than six million times in 2014 alone.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Corporate and Financial Investigations Department is working hard to combat the illegal diversion of prescription medications. In 2014, it launched a joint investigation with the Detroit Drug Enforcement Administration and a local city police department. A doctor in rural mid-Michigan was allegedly prescribing opiate and other medications recklessly. Police also noticed patients coming from long distances to visit this office, and some were alleged to have been illegally selling or diverting their medications. Undercover visits to the doctor’s office were made by multiple investigators. These visits confirmed the dangerous prescribing allegations and uncovered fraudulent billing. Highly potent medications were prescribed without medical necessity, proper examinations or testing. Approximately six months after the investigation began, search warrants were executed, and the doctor closed the practice. Formal criminal charges are pending. Blue Cross members and the community are now safer with this practice closed.

We urge Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network members who suspect health care fraud to call our toll free Anti-Fraud Hotline at 1-800-482-3787 or to report fraud at bcbsm.com.