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Workers comp prescriptions decline, but prices increase: Analysis


While the cost and utilization per workers compensation claimant for narcotics have decreased, the cost per prescription has increased, Coventry Workers' Comp Services said in a new analysis.

From 2012 to 2013, the utilization per claimant for narcotics declined 9.1% and the cost per claimant fell 3.3%, according to Downers Grove, Illinois-based Coventry's “2013 First Script Drug Trends Analysis,” released Monday. The cost per prescription, however, increased by 5.3% % due to the fact that average wholesale price increased.

Anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotics and sedatives/hypnotics all followed a similar pattern, with decreases in cost and utilization per claimant and increases in cost per script, according to the report, which was compiled using prescriptions billed through Coventry's pharmacy management program, First Script, in 2013.

The top 10 medications by volume have remained consistent, but the two most prescribed narcotics — Vicodin and Percocet — continue to decline, the report found. Meanwhile, utilization of other drugs in the top 10, including Neurontin, Ultram, Flexeril and Motrin, continue to increase.

According to the analysis, Oxycontin, which isn't among the top 10 most popular medications, has decreased in utilization and spend since 2012 and makes up less than 2% of total utilization.

The report credits the First Script's Early Narcotic Intervention program for the number of narcotic prescriptions remaining relatively flat in newer claims.

“Cost control is critical, but ideally the goal is a better outcome,” according to the study. “Early intervention — whether provider outreach, patient education, or interaction with a nurse case manager — can play an important role in helping the injured worker move toward recovery.”

“With narcotic over utilization still a pressing issue, early intervention is paramount, and First Script is committed to clinically reviewing every prescription no matter how it was dispensed or billed,”

“Our 2013 report discusses our progress presenting a complete utilization picture at the customer and injured worker level, allowing us to combat (narcotic over-utilization),” Brian Carpenter, vice president of product development at Coventry, said in a release for the report.