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Doctors prescribe more Schedule II painkillers for injuries in four states

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Physicians in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey prescribed Schedule II narcotics to injured workers more frequently than physicians in other states, according to reports released Thursday by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.

One in three prescriptions written by physicians in Massachusetts was for Schedule II narcotics, such as oxycodone, for claims with injuries occurring from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010 and prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012, according to WCRI studies.

Under U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency rules, Schedule II drugs can only be filled one time under the same prescription.

WCRI's updated benchmarking studies examine and compare 16 different states' workers compensation systems. A total of 25 states are used to make comparisons throughout the studies.

In Pennsylvania, one in four prescriptions written was for Schedule II narcotics for claims with injuries occurring from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010, with prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012, the reports state.

For claims with injuries from October 2009 to September 2012, with prescriptions filled through March 2012, 41% of narcotics prescribed in New Jersey were Schedule II controlled substances, the studies show. The 25-state median, according to WCRI, is 18%.

According to WCRI studies, 42% of all prescriptions were dispensed by physicians in Florida for 2011 claims with prescriptions filled through March 2012. The state passed legislation in 2013 to cap the price of repackaged drugs, which experts say could deter the practice of physician dispensing.

California, which has already capped the price of repackaged drugs, showed less frequent use of narcotics for claims with injuries occurring in 2010 with prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012. About 68% of claims in California with pain medications included narcotics, studies show. Meanwhile, 76% is the median for the 25 states studied by WCRI.

In California, 7% of prescribed narcotics were Schedule II controlled substances, while the 25-state median is 18%, according to WCRI.

Specific figures were not included for Maryland.