Auditor general raises alarm over doctors excessive fentanyl prescribing

The deadly opioid crisis is in the crosshairs of Toronto’s auditor general, who warns of evidence that specific physicians over-prescribed highly addictive drugs to city staff under their benefits plan.As a result, some doctors could be hearing from their governing body while, as a result of a related probe, 10 city staff reimbursed for massive amounts of Viagra in recent years will face tough questions from their boss. The findings are in Beverly Romeo-Beehler’s update, released Tuesday, of her 2016 probe of millions of dollars in questionable city staff claims for narcotics including fentanyl, a powerful painkiller central to the deadly overdose crisis, and for sexual enhancement drugs including Viagra.The auditor general has since obtained, from the city’s former benefits administrator, identification numbers for physicians who dispensed drugs in a sample of cases she examined.Romeo-Beehler was not able to see medical records or drug receipts from the dispensing pharmacies and limited the city’s ability to detect how many, if any, of the prescriptions were fraudulent for the purpose of resale. Her probe had raised the prospects of patients “double-doctoring” — getting prescriptions from multiple physicians.Article Continued Below“Overall, we did not find clear signs of double-doctoring in the sampled claimants, but we noted many cases showing signs of potential over-prescription of fentanyl or oxycodone by physicians,” the update states.“Recent research in Ontario has shown an unfolding opioid crisis and increasing trend of opioid prescriptions, and clearly demonstrated the risk of over-prescription leading to addictions and overdoses.”Her sample of claims found 27 staff and four retirees reimbursed for “potentially excessive” quantities of fentanyl, a painkiller 100 times more potent than morphine and 750 times stronger than codeine.