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States make inroads on curbing long-term opioid use


Longer-term use of opioids among injured workers decreased in several states, according to findings released Tuesday by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.

The WCRI study, “Longer-Term Use of Opioids, 3rd Edition,” looked at opioid prescriptions across 25 states for a two-year period and found that during that time claims from those who received opioids on a longer-term basis decreased by more than 2% in Michigan and decreased by 1% to 2% in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

The study defined longer-term users as those workers who had opioids prescribed in the first three months after their injury and had three or more visits to fill opioid prescriptions between seven and 12 months after the injury.

Although longer-term opioid use increased in Wisconsin and Indiana, the frequency of longer-term use was lower when compared with the other study states, the statement said.

Longer-term narcotic use was the highest in Louisiana over the two-year time period, with one in six injured workers with opioid prescriptions identified as having longer-term use of opioids. Compared with most states studied, the number was also more prevalent in California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

This study was based on over 337,000 workers comp claims and over 1.8 million pain medication prescriptions (opioid and nonopioid) associated with these claims from 25 states. The study used claims from injuries occurring in three accident years from 2010-2012 with prescriptions filled from March 2012 to March 2014.