Winner 2013

Reveal: The VA’s Opiate Overload

The Center for Investigative Reporting, Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

This investigative report discovered that over the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been a 270 percent increase in opiate prescriptions at Veterans Administration hospitals, leading to an overdose rate among VA patients more than twice the national average. Veterans often need complex psychological treatments, and this report indicates that in order to deal with the increase in veterans needing help, doctors from the VA prescribed opiates to mask the symptoms rather than treating the root cause. In many cases overprescribed veterans believed that the dangerous amounts of opiates they are ingesting were safe since they were prescribed by doctors. In response to this report from Reveal, the House Committee on Veterans’Affairs held a hearing to investigate. Doctors with the VA claimed that they were pressured to prescribe opiates and were terminated if they refused. The VA then promised they would present a plan to Congress that would reduce the amount of opiates they were prescribing to veterans. For presenting the evidence for this abuse of power so convincingly that it led to swift Congressional action, Reveal: The VA’s Opiate Overload receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producers: Ben Adair, Susanne Reber. Reporter: Aaron Glantz. Producers: Michael Montgomery, Amy Pyle, Mia Zuckerkandel, Mark Katches, Robert Rosenthal, Joaquin Alvarado, Christa Scharfenberg, John Barth, Kerri Hoffman, Jake Shapiro. Host: Al Letson. Producer/Camera: Adi Sambamurthy. Video Editor: Stephanie Mechura. Senior Video Producer: Stephen Talbot. Senior Web Editor: Sam Ward. Web Editor: Jaena Cabrera. Senior Data Reporter: Agustin Armendariz. Senior News Application Developer: Michael Corey. News Application Developer: Aaron Williams.