OH BWC Eliminates Oxycontin from Drug Formulary

Liz Carey

Columbus, OH (WorkersCompensation.com) – Board members for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation have voted to drop OxyContin from its drug formulary 22.

Recommended to the board by the BWC’s pharmacy and therapeutics committee, the vote would mean no new prescriptions of OxyContin as of July 1, 2019. Instead, the BWC’s formulary would replace it with Xtampa ER, a drug the BWC said was less likely to be abused.

“Xtampa is a sustained-release form of oxycodone, like OxyContin, but it utilizes a unique abuse-deterrent technology that makes it difficult to manipulate – crush, snort or inject – for aberrant use,” said Terry Welsh, the BWC’s chief medical officer. “Thanks to technology , this just seems like the next responsible step to protect our injured workers from potential addiction and overdose death to dangerous drugs.”

Robert Josephson, executive director for communications for Purdue Pharma, said the idea that OxyContin isn’t using similar technology is erroneous.

“The information being put out is misleading as OxyContin was reformulated with abuse-deterrent properties; in fact it was the first opioid to be approved in 2010 and then receive labeling claims from FDA in 2013,” Josephson said in an email interview with WorkersCompensation.com.

Josephson referred to a statement from Purdue Pharma from September 2018.

“The nation’s opioid crisis is a significant and urgent public health challenge, and Purdue Pharma is deeply concerned about the toll this crisis is having on communities. While we no longer market opioids to prescribing healthcare professionals through a sales team, we remain committed to patients who need this important therapy,” the statement said. “Recent public statements regarding opioid formulary coverage have incorrectly conveyed that OxyContin® (oxycodone HCL)1 is not approved as an abuse deterrent formulation by the FDA, and that certain other opioids with abuse-deterrent properties (ADP) are less likely to be abused. As the company that brought the first FDA-approved opioid medicine with ADP to the market, we believe it is important to correct this misinformation.”

“OxyContin® extended-release tablets were reformulated eight years ago with properties expected to deter intranasal and intravenous abuse. In 2010, after nearly a decade of research and development, Purdue received FDA-approval for reformulated OxyContin with abuse-deterrent properties…,” the statement further said. “Most importantly, different abuse-deterrent formulations use different methods to deter abuse. No formulation has been approved to claim based on human liking studies or real-world data that it is better or safer than another, and none are abuse-proof or less addictive. Instead, each abuse deterrent formulation offers different options for prescribers and patients. Inaccurate characterizations of these different formulations may lead to a false sense of security by patients and/or their health care providers.”

Welsh said the agency will phase out the use of OxyContin and generic oxycodone sustained release tablets over time.

Melissa Vance, communications manager for BWC, said in an interview with WorkersCompensation.com, that the phase-out would help injured workers transition off the drug, but would allow for injured workers to ask to stay on their current medication.

“Injured workers who currently have prior authorization for OxyContin will continue to be able to take it, until that authorization expires or there is a change in dose,” Vance said. “Physicians will be made aware of the change and can advise injured workers on alternatives. There is also an appeals process through the Ohio Industrial Commission that injured workers can take advantage of.”

Currently, she said, just over 1,000 injured workers in Ohio are on OxyContin or generic long-lasting oxycodone.

The bureau has no other formulary changes under consideration, she said.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a vocal advocate of addressing the opioid crisis, said the move was a step in the right direction.

“When an on-the-job injury causes someone serious discomfort, we want that worker to get the needed pain relief, but we also want to ensure that work injuries don’t lead to addiction,” he said in a statement. “Changing BWC’s formulary and replacing OxyContin with a comparable painkiller that is less susceptible to abuse is the responsible thing to do. I commend BWC for taking this step to prevent addiction among injured workers.”


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