A new report says nearly 12 million Medicare beneficiaries received at least one prescription for an opioid painkiller last year at a cost of $4.1 billion. Federal data show how common the addictive drugs are in many older Americans' medicine cabinets.
With an overdose epidemic worsening, nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries received at least one prescription for commonly abused opioids such as OxyContin and fentanyl in 2015. Those who did received an average of five such prescriptions or refills.
The report was released Wednesday to The Associated Press by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Medicare spokesman Aaron Albright says agency officials are reviewing the report closely.