Raycom’s National Investigative Team, led by WVUE’s Lee Zurik, in a series of investigative reports, uncovered how many high-opioid prescribers across the country have avoided scrutiny. WVUE is Raycom’s Fox affiliate in New Orleans. Licensed to Pill, a three-part series, analyzed the nation’s top 1,000 prescribers of opioids to Medicare patients and found just 10% […]
Raycom’s National Investigative Team, led by WVUE’s Lee Zurik, in a series of investigative reports, uncovered how many high-opioid prescribers across the country have avoided scrutiny.
WVUE is Raycom’s Fox affiliate in New Orleans.
Licensed to Pill, a three-part series, analyzed the nation’s top 1,000 prescribers of opioids to Medicare patients and found just 10% had ever been sanctioned.
A week after the story aired featuring the nation’s top opioid prescriber, federal agents raided his Tennessee office.
Raycom Media’s Investigative Team spent months investigating 1,000 opioid prescribers in the Medicare Prescription Program (Part D). Among the team’s findings:
- Family physicians, nurse practitioners and doctors whose specialties focus on non-narcotic therapies are some of the nation’s most prolific opioid prescription writers in recent years. Federal guidelines say they shouldn’t be.
- Some wrote prescriptions for so many opioids that the patients’ daily supply of the pain-killing medication exceeded, on average, the number of days in a year.
- Dozens of doctors who had been previously sanctioned by a state medical board for excessive prescribing but continue to hold active licenses.
The investigation also revealed non-cancer doctors prescribing dangerous fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients. Many of those same doctors were also taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the controversial drug maker.
“One law enforcement officer told us that our data analysis gave him a new roadmap to investigate doctors,” said Director of Investigations Lee Zurik.
The series was offered to all of Raycom’s stations across the country.
According to Zurik, although no audit has been to confirm which stations aired any of the series, “most stations, if not all, ran at least one story.”
The majority of the stations, according to Zurik, ran the medium length version which was about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes.
The creative services department at WAFB, Raycom’s CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge, La., created a tool kit for the seriesr and other marketing material that the Raycom stations could use and customize for their own on-air.
In addition to Zurik, the Raycom Media National Investigative Team includes Investigative Producer Jill Riepenhoff, Investigative Producer Megan Luther and Executive Producer Andy Miller. Investigative Producer Tom Wright, Photographer Jon Turnipseed and News Content Specialist Erin Snodgrass also contributed to these stories.
Click here to go to the Raycom website for this series where you’ll find all three parts plus other video stories connected to this investigation.
NOTE: Earlier this week, Market Share covered how another broadcast group, Tegna, created a six-part documentary that all the Tegna stations could use on their digital platforms.
I see this as an on-going trend in the local TV news arena. It makes sense to me that a broadcast group would want to share the extraordinary investigative work done by their teams and stations to all of their stations.
Here are all three parts of License to Pill.