It’s been a decade since work comp payers and PBMs got the big wakeup call, the one that changed the industry.
From looking at drugs just as an expense, the industry began to see how devastating these drugs were to patients, families, employers, and taxpayers. Instead of fighting over the price of each pill, payers started to push PBMs to figure out ways to slow down the spread of these incredibly dangerous drugs.
Today, we’re on a roll. While anyone with any sense of the issue knows opioids will remain a top 3 issue for years to come, we’ve made a lot of progress.
After surveying 30 workers’ comp payers, we’ve learned this:
- Opioid spend dropped 19.7 percent from 2017 to 2018.
- For the first time on record, opioid spend represents less than a fifth of total drug spend
- By a long shot, opioids are not the biggest problem in workers’ comp pharmacy. (3 respondents out of 30 said they are)
- Payers believe the’ve made more progress dealing with initial opioid scripts vs chronic
- By far the most important tools have been more internal resources and focus on the opioid issue, followed by new regulations and legislation and payers adopting a comprehensive approach to the issue.
We’ve got work to do, to be sure.
But we should take a minute – or a day – to stand back and revel in what we’ve accomplished.
The industry has cut opioid usage probably in half, and it’s headed further down. People haven’t died, families haven’t been destroyed, pills haven’t found their way into kids’ hands.
What does this mean for you?
A welcome opportunity to reflect on a very hard job done well.