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State crackdowns barely impact physician drug dispensing

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In states where reforms to physician dispensing prescription drugs were put into place over the last several years, physician dispensing frequency remains largely unchanged, according to findings released Tuesday by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.

“As of June 2016, 20 states have made changes to rules governing the reimbursement for physician-dispensed drugs,” said Dongchun Wang, an author of the studies, in a WCRI statement. The study was performed to let lawmakers know how reform was affecting the amount of physician dispensing that had been occurring since each state’s reform was enacted, he said.

Overall, the results from the states studied were mixed. However, out of the eight states that were studied: Connecticut Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee; only South Carolina saw a decrease in dispensing, while the other states saw physician dispensing remaining “frequent” and “common,” the report said.

Although some states, including Indiana and Illinois, reported a decrease in the cost of some of the drugs that were commonly dispensed, states also saw a “substantial increases” in physician prices for drugs such as Cyclobenzaprine (a muscle relaxant) and Tramadol (an opioid-based pain killer), due to some physicians dispensing higher-priced new strengths, a WCRI statement said.

The studies used detailed transaction data in the selected states for physician- and pharmacy-dispensed prescriptions filled by injured workers through the first quarter of 2014, according to the report.