Finally, Some Good News About Opioids


By Joan E. Collier

Texas is making some big boasts about the success of its workers’ compensation pharmacy closed formulary.  

When the state adopted the system in 2010, new injury claims became subject to the pharmacy closed formulary beginning Sept. 1, 2011; legacy claims became subject to the formulary two years later, on Sept. 1, 2013.

The formulary requires pre-authorization for investigational and experimental drugs, any non-FDA approved drugs, and, most importantly, compounds that include N-drugs and all medications with an “N" status under the Official Disability Guidelines—including many opioids.

It is the N-drug statistics in a new report from the Texas Department of Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Research and Evaluation Group, that I want to draw your attention to. The report, says that, in a review of pharmacy services for all claims (new and legacy claims by service year):

Wow. As impressive as the dramatic drop in opioid costs in terms of dollars per pill is, what we really care about is the drop in opioids usage, and the attendant benefit to society as a whole. In that regard, the usage decreases cited in the report are even more impressive. And, there is no indication that Other drugs are being substituted for N-drugs.

Again, Wow.

Here’s why, in case anyone needs reminded of our epidemic:

We have so much bad news about the disastrous effects of opioid use and abuse in this country, that it’s a happy day when we can spread some good news. Congrats to Texas, and to all the other states, agencies, and workers’ compensation systems fighting the good fight.

(Read more Work Comp Nation blogs here.)

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