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Policies reduced opioid prescriptions in comp: WCRI


State prescription drug monitoring programs reduced the amount of opioids prescribed by 12% in the first year of implementation and regulations limiting duration of initial opioid prescriptions resulted in a 19% decrease in the amount of opioids in workers compensation claims, according to a study released Thursday by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute.

Yet researchers with the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based institute said such changes to access to opioids “had little impact on the duration of temporary disability benefits captured within 12 months after an injury.”

The study also found that for most injuries, there was “little evidence” that workers increased the use of other types of care due to prescription monitoring programs. However, it found that for neurologic spine pain cases, the policies resulted in an increase in the number of non-opioid pain medications and an increase in whether workers had interventional pain management services. 

The study, which estimated the effects of state-level opioid policies by comparing outcomes in states that adopted the policies relative to states that did not, while accounting for other factors that could have influenced changes in opioid utilization, included data for workers injured between October 2009, and March 2018. The study included data from 33 states representing 85% of benefits paid in 2017, according to WCRI.







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