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California comp fund says opioid prescriptions down 60% since 2014

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California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund has reduced the number of opioid prescriptions for injured workers by 60% to 23.7 million since launching its opioid-reduction program in 2014, the state-run insurer announced Thursday.

Under the program, the number of patients taking high-dose opioids over the past four years has decreased to 186 from 1,458, and the fund has seen a 74% reduction in expenditures on opioids prescribed to injured workers covered by State Fund, the organization said in a statement.

State Fund implemented a comprehensive opioid-reduction strategy that took a two-pronged approach, which included providing early prevention in new cases and reducing chronic opioid usage in existing cases, according to the statement.

The strategy included a peer-to-peer physician review program, education for injured workers and treating physicians, and a functional restoration program for injured workers taking chronic, high levels of opioids, according to the statement.

“Peer-to-peer education of prescribing physicians has been instrumental in the success of State Fund’s opioid-reduction program,” said Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, chief medical officer of State Fund, in the statement. “Not all providers have adequate training on pain management and opioid prescribing, and many patients don’t understand the impacts of their medications, which is why education about appropriate and alternative treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, has been a key focus area for our program.”