NarxCare drug addiction assessment system wrongly denies patients meds

Released: TBC 

NarxCare, a software system that uses patient data, drug use data, and metadata to determine the risk of drug addiction, was accused of denying users opioids on the basis it wrongly reckoned they were at risk of addiction. 

Developed by Appriss, NarxCare is used across several US states to track prescriptions for drugs such as opioids and purports to identify and flag patients with ‘drug-shopping’ behaviours - people who might be lying to doctors about the pain they’re in in order to get opioids.

However, in some cases, the system recommended denying painkillers to people who suffer from severe pain and have no history of drug abuse, according to WIRED, denying patients hralth benefits, worsening their health and leading to accusations that it can be inaccurate and unfair. The system has also been accused of reinforcing existing racial and gender biases. 

Appriss has not disclosed how the NarxCare system works, nor provided access to its data, model or code. The company made a number of contradictory claims about the algorithm's data sources and other inputs.

Operator: US Department of Justice; Rite Aid; Walmart; Sam's Club
Developer: Appriss
Country: USA
Sector: Healthcare/pharma
Purpose: Assess & predict drug abuse
Technology: Risk assessment algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, gender; Fairness
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: September 2021
Last updated: April 2024