Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "prescriptions" ...

  • The Dysfunction in Drug Prices

    The U.S. market for prescription drugs is an Alice-in-Wonderland corner of capitalism, immune to the usual forces of supply and demand. A team of Wall Street Journal reporters exposed the inner workings of a dysfunctional system that fuels corporate profits on unrestrained price increases, with no accountability to the patients, businesses and government payers that must bear the cost.
  • Connecticut Nurse Among Highest Prescribers In U.S.

    Tunneling through reams of newly-released national prescriber data in January 2015, C-HIT senior writer Lisa Chedekel came across a tiny bit of information that is fundamentally changing how Connecticut views pain treatment. Lisa found an odd nugget that lead to a flood of stories: an advanced practice registered nurse working out of a clinic in tiny Derby, Connecticut was among the nation’s top 10 prescribers of the most potent pain killers in the Medicare drug program. The ARPN, Heather Alfonso, wrote more than 8,700 prescriptions for opioids and other Schedule II drugs in 2012 – far more than any pain specialists or doctor.
  • A Scooter Swindle?

    This piece uncovered Medicare fraud by The SCOOTER Store, the nation’s leading supplier of power wheelchairs. We spent months finding and interviewing former employees of the company. They told us The SCOOTER Store “bulldozed” doctors into writing prescriptions for wheelchairs, whether patients needed them or not. Relentless phone calls and in person visits wore doctors down. They also said the company ranked doctors based on whether they would prescribe chairs, and that it had a program specifically to get chairs for people that physicians had already deemed ineligible.
  • Death and Dysfunction at VA

    In four original investigative reports (plus follow-ups) examining the Veterans Health Administration, CBS News uncovered serious problems surrounding patient care at VA facilities across the country. We uncovered patient deaths due to the mismanagement of an infectious disease outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA. We discovered VA doctors across the country felt pressured to prescribe strong narcotic painkillers to veterans instead of treating the underlying cause of their pain (narcotic prescriptions at VA are up 259% since 2002). We found veterans are dying at a 33% higher rate than the general population of accidental prescription narcotic overdose. We interviewed a VA doctor who was retaliated against for blowing the whistle on a dangerous shortage of mental healthcare providers at the Wilmington VA. We also found VA administrators are receiving large bonuses from the federal government despite serious allegations of poor patient care at the hospitals they oversee.
  • Reveal - The VA's Opiate Overload

    Many veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are addicted to prescription painkillers. The Center for Investigative Reporting and Aaron Glantz investigated the extent of the problem and substantiated the government’s role in feeding veterans’ addictions to dangerous narcotic painkillers. In the summer of 2013, The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain, 12 years of prescription data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The CIR analysis exposed a startling 270 percent increase in the number of opiate prescriptions in Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospitals, a phenomenon that had contributed to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that was nearly double the national average. On Sept..28th, CIR reporter, Aaron Glantz’s investigation, The VA’s Opiate Overload, premiered on Reveal, a new radio program showcasing investigative reporting. The riveting documentary detailed how the Department of Veterans Affairs became the drug dealer of choice for many veterans caught in the trap of prescription painkillers.
  • Hooked: Canada's Pill Problem

    Which Canadians pop the most pills? What's the correlation between prescription, abuse and deaths connected to potent opioids? What happens when you crack down on one widely abuse opioid - but only one? We created an original database tracking opioid prescriptions across provinces and compared that with data on abuse and opioid-related deaths. We spoke with people who've lost loved ones to opioid use, to the companies manufacturing these drugs and the policy-makers trying to combat their abuse. Our data shed new light on the topic and gave health ministers something new on which to act.
  • Costly Generics

    Generic drugs now make up around 80 percent of prescriptions filled, and many assume generics are always cheap. But a PBS NewsHour Weekend investigation found that’s not always the case. Retail prices for generic drugs can vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy – a fact few consumers know anything about. The story was very personal for PBS NewsHour Weekend correspondent Megan Thompson, whose mother Carol discovered that the cost of a month’s supply of her generic breast cancer drug Letrozole ranged from around $10 to more than $400 at pharmacies around the Twin Cities. Thompson also spoke to Lisa Gill at Consumer Reports who led a national survey of retail prices for five new generics. Gill said their results were unprecedented - the biggest price variations they’d ever seen in a drug pricing study. The consequences of these huge price variations can be dire. The uninsured, or people with inadequate drug coverage or high deductibles, could overpay by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Or, they could end up going without medications they need. Thompson interviewed Lisa Duncan of Brooklyn Park, MN, who is bipolar and has a history of suicide attempts. After she became uninsured, she couldn’t afford a big-name chain’s price of more than $100 for one of her prescriptions, so she left the store empty-handed. Duncan says she found the same drug at CostCo for a tenth of the price and was able take the drug again as needed. As the nation grapples with skyrocketing health care costs, “Costly Generics” is an important consumer story that shines a light on the murky prescription drug marketplace, where it’s hard to know how much drugs are supposed to cost, and is very difficult to find or compare prices. And vulnerable populations who need medications the most – the elderly, or chronically ill -- may also be the least likely to have to have the resources to navigate this opaque marketplace. One viewer wrote that after watching the story, she called around and found her prescription for $28 at a local drug store, compared to $72 at CVS.
  • When Nurses Fail

    In the fall of 2013, the Star Tribune published a five-part series, “When Nurses Fail,” an investigation by staff reporter Brandon Stahl of how Minnesota protects the public from unsafe nurses. The stories showed how the state Board of Nursing rarely threw nurses out of the profession for unsafe conduct, how nurses could commit drug-related misconduct while under state monitoring, how background check flaws allow problem nurses to keep their licenses and how nurses who lose jobs after allegations of misconduct can find new ones. The reporting revealed a strikingly lenient attitude toward discipline of problem nurses, who were given chance after chance, especially if their misconduct was related to an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The backbone of the project was a database Stahl created from more than 1,000 enforcement actions against problem nurses. He also examined hundreds more records of neglect and maltreatment investigations and criminal and civil court cases. Patterns emerged from his research: More than 260 nurses have licenses despite records of unsafe practice, including botched care that harmed patients. Nurses whose neglect led to patient deaths were told to take courses, while at least 112 nurses were licensed to practice despite thefts of drugs on the job, fraudulent prescriptions or practicing while impaired. Stahl’s reporting has exposed serious flaws in the oversight of the largest population of health professionals, and in the process opened a conversation about patient harm that has already shown dramatic results. It’s the kind of public service reporting that policy makers and ordinary Minnesotans count on from the Star Tribune.
  • The VA's Opiate Overload

    Many veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are addicted to prescription painkillers. The Center for Investigative Reporting and Aaron Glantz investigated the extent of the problem and substantiated the government’s role in feeding veterans’ addictions to dangerous narcotic painkillers. In the summer of 2013, The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain, 12 years of prescription data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The CIR analysis exposed a startling 270 percent increase in the number of opiate prescriptions in Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospitals, a phenomenon that had contributed to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that was nearly double the national average. On Sept..28th, CIR reporter, Aaron Glantz’s investigation, The VA’s Opiate Overload, premiered on Reveal, a new radio program showcasing investigative reporting. The riveting documentary detailed how the Department of Veterans Affairs became the drug dealer of choice for many veterans caught in the trap of prescription painkillers.
  • The Prescribers

    Never-before-released government prescription records shows that some doctors and other health professionals across the country prescribe large quantities of drugs known to be potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for their patients. And officials have done little to detect or deter these hazardous prescribing patterns.