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The North Carolina Industrial Commission is seeking public comments on nine rules introduced Tuesday that would limit opioid prescriptions for injured workers.
The Raleigh, North Carolina-based commission, which oversees workers comp statewide, is proposing changes that would limit opioid prescriptions on first fills to five days at the onset of an injury, or seven days following surgery, and urge providers to seek nonpharmacological treatments including massage, acupuncture and physical therapy for workers grappling with pain.
The rules would also limit the strength of painkillers and permit that only one version be prescribed at a time. They also would prohibit prescribing certain muscle relaxers and antianxiety medications in conjunction with an opioid in the first 12 days following an injury, and limit such prescriptions for chronic pain.
The rules also detail a process for waivers.
The public comment period for the proposal is January to March. If approved, the rules would go into effect in May.
North Carolina's workers compensation system could benefit greatly from adopting a closed drug formulary if physicians in the state mimic the prescribing patterns of those in Texas, according to a new study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.