Work comp drug costs are down 22% over the last five years. Opioid spend dropped 16.7% last year.
That’s the key takeaway from CompPharma’s annual survey of Prescription Drug Management in Workers’ Comp.
These are truly remarkable results; payers and PBMs (mostly PBMs) have slashed over a billion dollars from pharmacy spend, cutting costs for employers and taxpayers.
There is much left to do; far too many patients still get far too many drugs. Opioid addiction is a crisis in workers’ comp, as is abuse misuse and diversion. There are still no comprehensive, completely (or even mostly) effective tools/medications/programs to help patients get off and stay off opioids.
But let’s focus on the positive. Last year, overall opioid spend in the US declined by 1 percent – while work comp cut opioid spend by almost 17 percent.
While the reduction is beyond substantial, it’s important to understand that a big chunk of this was driven by payers settling older claims, claims that have a disproportionately high drug spend. These settlements don’t “count” towards drug spend, while they do eliminate on-going dispensing and the attendant costs.
What does this mean for you?