Little is known about the reasons for visiting multiple doctors/pharmacies, known as doctor/pharmacy shopping, to obtain opioids.
To investigate patients’ self-reported reasons for doctor/pharmacy shopping and assess whether doctor/pharmacy shopping behavior can be used as a surrogate measure of opioid abuse/misuse.
We conducted a cross-sectional web-based survey among adult patients with ≥2 pharmacy claims for immediate-release or extended-release/long-acting opioids between 7/1/2015 and 12/31/2016, identified from a large United States (US) commercial claims database. Patients were classified into no, mild, moderate, or severe shopping categories based on their claims. Reasons for doctor/pharmacy shopping and opioid abuse/misuse were determined from patient responses to the Prescription Opioid Misuse and Abuse Questionnaire.
A random sample of 10,081 patients was invited to participate in the survey and 1085 (11%) completed surveys. The most frequently reported reasons for doctor/pharmacy shopping were convenience, availability, price, and multiple morbidities requiring pain management. Among patients in the no, minimal, moderate, and severe shopping categories, only 7.8%, 8.5%, 11.8% and 12.6% reported opioid abuse/misuse, respectively.
In this commercially-insured population, patient-reported reasons for doctor/pharmacy shopping do not suggest opioid abuse/misuse. Less than 15% of patients with shopping behavior in the past 3 months reported any reasons attributable to opioid abuse/misuse, indicating that shopping behavior in this population may not be a good surrogate for abuse/misuse.