Compound drug use is exploding – so much so that Texas has changed their employee benefits program to limit reimbursement to $300. They didn’t have much choice, as the Texas Employees’ Retirement System’s compound drug costs have gone up 4,600% over five years.
That was not a typo.
They’re now requiring prior auth and ONLY covering FDA approved drugs.
The only thing that may potentially slow down the growth is bad news – and that was delivered in spades last week with the news that a coroner’s report found the infant died after ingesting a topical pain cream. After sustaining injuries at work, the baby’s mother, Priscilla Lujan, applied some of the cream to her knee and back, made a baby bottle, and some of the substance got on the nipple. The story was broken by Karen Foshay of KPCC; Foshay reported the cream contained the
“antidepressant amitriptyline, the pain reliever tramadol and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan…
Workers’ compensation records show Jarminski’s office billed $1,700 for the initial 25-day supply of the cream. That is much more than the prices of various mass-produced medications, asserted McCann.
Jarminski [the mother's physician] was informed the cream was linked to Lujan’s son’s death but, according to McCann, that didn’t stop the doctor from sending more creams.
“Priscilla had expressed she didn’t want to see that cream anymore or use it anymore,” McCann said. “Despite that they continued to send her more creams by mail and bill workers’ comp for it.”
McCann said at least two to four more tubes of cream were sent to Lujan after her son’s death. It’s unclear how much Jarminski billed in workers’ compensation claims for those additional tubes.
As horrible as this is, this baby’s death may protect others from this deadly scam. The press is all over this, medical malpractice insurers are undoubtedly quite concerned, and law enforcement is getting more engaged.
While one would hope the mother’s doctor prescribed this medication solely for health reasons, the prescribing physician was one of those indicted in the California compound drug case.
Of course, the compounders have hired a PR firm to try to convince us with BS that which they can’t validate with science – and even started an astroturf group to “fight for patients rights”. Like the right to have tubes of deadly cream lying around…
UPDATE From a colleague’s email -
One strategy that seems to work well in Texas is to approach every compound as Experimental and Investigational and require prior authorization for ALL. The Texas WC UR rules appear to allow for that approach since essentially none of the compounds has gone through specific FDA approval. Without high quality (or essentially any) studies to support their use compounds can only be viewed as E&I in Texas.
At least one large carrier I know of is approaching compounds this way in Texas and other jurisdictions.
For those interested in the current state of research into compounds and workers’ comp, CompPharma’s research paper can be downloaded here.
What does this mean for you?
DO NOT approve compounds without proof of medical necessity and safety.