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Workers comp prescription drug costs up in 2014

Workers comp prescription drug costs up in 2014

Workers compensation prescription drug spending per worker increased 1.9% last year, but a 5.4% decrease in drug utilization helped offset a 7% increase in overall prescription costs, according to pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Inc.

Workers comp claim payers spent an average of $1,583 per injured worker for prescription drugs in 2014, the St. Louis-based PBM said Tuesday in its 2014 Workers' Compensation Drug Trend Report.

The increased cost was driven partly by a 35% increase in costs for compounded medications, a 12.8% increase in costs for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and an 11.5% increase in costs for opioid painkillers in claims managed by Express Scripts, the report said.

Opioids — the costliest and one of the most prescribed medication types in comp claims — saw an 11% decrease in utilization year-over-year in 2014, according to the drug trend report. The decrease was attributed to utilization management programs implemented by Express Scripts.

Utilization of antipsychotic medications in workers comp claims also fell 5.9% last year, while the use of muscle relaxants in comp claims decreased 3.9% in 2014, Express Scripts said.

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