over·​pre·​scribe ˌō-vər-pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce overprescribe (audio)
overprescribed; overprescribing

transitive + intransitive

: to prescribe (a medication, diagnostic test, etc.) in excess or more often than necessary
The family of a man who fatally overdosed is suing his doctors claiming they overprescribed addictive pain medication.WPXI.com (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
… tried … to warn the world against overprescribing antibiotics to a point that they would be useless.Network Ten (Australia)
Critics say Xanax is overprescribed and widely abused.Jane Velez-Mitchell
… the compelling and continuing issues of quality control and overprescribing in medical imaging …David J. Brenner and Hedvig Hricak
Why do doctors overprescribe? Is it about covering their backsides in this litigious society?Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker

Examples of overprescribe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In 2017, former Tomah VA chief of staff David Houlihan surrendered his medical license after he and others at the Tomah VA were found to be overprescribing opioids to veterans, one of whom died of a drug overdose while being treated there. Sarah Volpenhein, Journal Sentinel, 12 May 2023 When the crisis ramped up in the late 1990s, prescription opioids were overprescribed and people developed substance use disorders. Vanessa Arredondo, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2023 The clash between desperate patients who need treatment and DEA’s efforts to bar telehealth companies from overprescribing dangerous medications was inevitable, said David Herzberg, a historian of drugs at the University of Buffalo. Jonel Aleccia, Anchorage Daily News, 23 Apr. 2023 Some observers note that because of the rise of certain telehealth providers, stimulants may be overprescribed. Alexa Gagosz, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Mar. 2023 Numerous drug makers have been accused of downplaying the addictive risks of their opioid painkillers while simultaneously encouraging physicians to overprescribe the medicines. Ed Silverman Reprints, STAT, 28 June 2021 But that’s led to concerns of overprescribing and questions of whether some patients are needlessly getting the drug. Matthew Perrone, Chicago Tribune, 16 Mar. 2023 For specialized telehealth startups, more prescriptions mean more business, and reporting has found many of their employees were under pressure to overprescribe Adderall or other stimulants, which can easily be abused. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 2 Sep. 2022 The government said reimbursing the hospitals, called 340B hospitals, at the same rate as other hospitals that pay more created an incentive for the hospitals to overprescribe the drugs or prescribe more expensive drugs. Jessica Gresko, ajc, 15 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overprescribe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1953, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of overprescribe was in 1953

Dictionary Entries Near overprescribe

Cite this Entry

“Overprescribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overprescribe. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Medical Definition


over·​pre·​scribe -pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce overprescribe (audio)
overprescribed; overprescribing

intransitive verb

: to prescribe excessive or unnecessary medication

transitive verb

: to prescribe (medication) unnecessarily or to excess
overprescription noun
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