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California closed formulary for workers comp prescriptions approved

California closed formulary for workers comp prescriptions approved

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to establish a closed formulary for medications prescribed in the workers compensation system.

A.B. 1124, introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea in February, requires the administrative director of California's Division of Workers' Compensation to create a formulary on or before July 1, 2017 for medications prescribed to injured workers.

The formulary is intended to combat the overutilization of opioids and other drugs.

“A.B. 1124 will provide effective and evidence-based treatment for injured workers while reducing delays and medical disputes,” Jeremy Merz, California Chamber of Commerce policy advocate, said in a Tuesday statement by the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus. “This legislation furthers the goal of a balanced workers compensation system that provides timely benefits to injured workers and minimizes friction in the system.”

The law, signed Tuesday, states that the formulary should be updated “at least on a quarterly basis to allow for the provision of all appropriate medications, including medications new to the market.”

An October 2014 study by the California Workers' Compensation Institute found that adopting a mandatory formulary like Texas or Washington state could reduce California's workers comp pharmacy costs by $124 million to $420 million a year.

“California's upcoming drug formulary should result in prescribing behavior changes away from dangerous prescription drugs and combinations of drugs to more clinically appropriate means of managing chronic pain,” Mark Pew, senior vice president at PRIUM, a Duluth, Georgia-based medical management company, said in the statement.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Brown vetoed A.B. 305, which sought to prohibit using “certain gender-related characteristics in the calculation of permanent disability benefits for injuries occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2016,” according to a message the governor sent members of the California State Assembly.

According to the bill, introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in February, pregnancy and menopause shouldn't be considered in the apportionment of permanent disability benefits, and the impairment ratings for breast cancer should be comparable to the impairment ratings for prostate cancer.

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