Significant Drop in Opioid Prescriptions for Injured Workers

Written by on 2/6/2017 3:56 AM in , . It has 1 Comments.

A study recently released by the by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) uncovered “noticeable decreases” in opioid prescriptions doled out in workman's compensation insurance claims across 25 states. Reforms aimed at curbing opioid abuse, such as those recommended in the March 2016 release of CDC Guidelines for prescribing opioids in chronic pain cases, include drug formularies and prescription drug monitoring programs. Workers’ comp payers now have reason to believe prescribers are finally heeding warnings about the dangers of overprescribing this class of drugs.

Under the microscope
The study compared the amount of opioids prescribed per claim over two 24-month periods ending March 2012 and March 2014 (with injuries arising from October 1, 2009, to September 30, 2012). Opioids received by injured workers showed statistically significant reductions in the range of 20-31% in the six states included in the study: Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Data covered over 337,000 nonsurgical workers’ compensation claims and 1.9 million associated prescriptions from all 25 states, and reflected an average 24 months of experience for each claim: 40-75% of claims in each state.

Other studies show similar pattern
This data corresponds with an Express Scripts report citing overall workers’ comp spending on opioids is down almost 5%, with utilization down nearly 11%. The study also noted opioids received by injured workers (on average) is down from 3.33 prescriptions in 2014, to 2.91. At $450.90 per-user-per-year, opioids continue to be the costliest class of medications for occupational injuries.

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