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Report shows rise in expensive topical medications in comp


The number of injured workers using topical medications rose 4.7% in 2021, according to a report released Tuesday by Enlyte Group LLC subsidiary Mitchell International Inc.

The latest report follows one in July that showed the number of injured workers using opioids has continued to decline, from 33.3% of all injured workers in 2020 to 30.3% in 2021. The new report shows that topicals, or creams used mostly for pain, are on the rise, with 114 out of every 1,000 injured workers being prescribed such medications.

While topicals make up a small but growing share of comp drugs, representing 5.7% of prescribed drugs, the report highlighted that the “inflated” costs of such medications — averaging $2,100 per script — are cause for concern. Topicals made up 12.3% of costs in comp, according to the report.

Specialty drugs are also an area to watch, with such drugs making up 1.7% of drugs prescribed in 2021 but 9.9% of costs, according to the report.