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Hydrocodone, oxycodone top opioids dispensed by Pennsylvania doctors

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Hydrocodone-acetaminophen and oxycodone-acetaminophen are the two most commonly dispensed opioids by physicians in Pennsylvania, according to an updated study released Monday by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.

WCRI's “Physician Dispensing in Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition” – the first edition was released in 2013 – addresses the issue of physician dispensing. Pennsylvania is among states debating whether to cap the price of repackaged medications, limit physician dispensing, or ban the practice entirely.

In Pennsylvania, Hydrocodone-acetaminophen and oxycodone-acetaminophen products, such as Vicodin and Percocet, respectively, accounted for about 12% of all physician-dispensed prescriptions, according report, which examines more than 58,000 claims, in addition to more than 447,000 prescriptions received by these claims, with injuries occurring from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012 and prescriptions filed through March 31, 2013. The first edition examined 40,470 claims with injuries occurring from Oct. 1, 2007 to Sept. 30, 2011, and prescriptions filled through March 31, 2012.

Motrin and Aleve are also among the 10 drugs most commonly dispensed by physicians in Pennsylvania, according to the study.

The report examines more than 58,000 claims, in addition to more than 447,000 prescriptions received by these claims, with injuries occurring from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012 and prescriptions filed through March 31, 2013.

Physician-dispensed prescriptions accounted for 29% of all prescriptions and 48% of prescription payments — an increase from 17% of prescriptions and 17% of prescription costs four years earlier, the study states.

According to the first edition, the state's doctors dispensed 23% of workers comp prescriptions in 2011.

In a statement, Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI's executive director, noted that, “In many states across the country, including Pennsylvania, policymakers are debating whether doctors should be paid significantly more than pharmacies for dispensing the same drug.”