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Pennsylvania drug formulary bill progresses

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Pennsylvania lawmakers will meet again Tuesday to examine amendments to a bill proposing to create a workers compensation drug formulary. 

Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh Valley, introduced House Bill 18 in February. He told Business Insurance on Thursday that the Labor and Industry Committee approved the amendments by a 14-12 vote on Tuesday and will meet again to prepare the bill for a House vote.  

The bill calls for the state to “select a nationally recognized, evidence-based prescription drug formulary appropriate for resolving issues related to drugs prescribed for or related to the treatment of work-related injuries, including, but not limited to, the type, dosage and duration of prescriptions.”

The bill’s language also requires a public comment period following passage of the bill with 180 days to implement the formulary.

Rep. Mackenzie said the state is looking at other states, such as Texas, that have had luck with reducing the amount of opioids prescribed to injured workers. Pennsylvania was ranked in the top third of the states with the most opioids prescribed under workers comp, according to a recent study by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute. Those numbers are helping to push a formulary among lawmakers, he said. 

“There is pretty compelling evidence that shows we have an over prescription problem in our state,” he added.