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Reporting Recipe: Analyzing Drug Prescriptions In Your Area

Yesterday, the big health care news was the FDA's recommendation to impose more restrictions on how doctors prescribe hydrocodone, an opiod painkiller found in many commonly prescribed drugs, like Vicodin. As ProPublica has previously reported, these are also some of the most widely abused drugs. With this problem back in the headlines, our Prescriber Checkup news app, which covers elderly and disabled patients in Medicare's Part D program, is again a viable resource for news organizations who want to find out who's prescribing these kinds of drugs – and how much.

Using our app, you can easily search for the top prescribers of hydrocodone in your area:

  • First, select your state in the dropdown menu. You can also click on the state name in the mid-left section of the page under "Prescriptions by State." That should lead you to a page with the top specialties and top drugs for your state. Here's the one for New York, for example.
  • You can search for "hydrocodone" or sort the top drugs alphabetically and scroll down till you see "hydrocodone bit-ibuprofen" and "hydrocodone-acetaminophen." These pages will list the providers who have submitted the most Medicare claims for these drugs. Alternatively, you can search for hydrocodone in the "Top Drugs" list on the main page towards the mid-right. This will take you to a page listing the top hydrocodone prescibers in the country.
  • You can then click on the provider's name to see more information: the doctor's specialty, characteristics about the prescriber's patients, the prescriber's top-ranked drugs and how that breakdown compares with others in their specialty in state. Again, in New York, the top prescriber of hydrocodone-acetaminophen is Pravin Mehta. This doctor has filled more than 2,400 prescriptions of hydrocodone, making it his #1 drug, which is odd since it averages to the #32 drug among his peers.

Hydrocodone is one of the most commonly prescribed prescription drugs in the U.S. In 2011 alone, there were about 131 million prescriptions for products containing the popular narcotic, according to an FDA report in January.

See how doctors in your area measure up. And for more information on our Prescriber Checkup news app, read our FAQ.

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