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Increase in comp prescription costs offset by lower volume


The price of prescription drugs used in workers compensation cases grew at an annual rate of 3.7% average over a nine-year period, which was offset by a 6% decline in the volume of prescriptions, according to a research paper published by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. 

Analyzing data from 2012 to 2021, NCCI also found that the average drugs-paid cost per claim decreased about 2.6% per year. The annual reduction in drug payment per claim varied across four regions, ranging from 2.0% in the Southeast to 3.9% in the West.

Opioid claims saw the largest decrease in drug costs, according to the paper. Of claims with prescription claims, the share of those that included at least one opioid decreased from 55% in 2012 to 26% in 2021. 

Changes in opioid prescription trends have resulted in an average annual decrease of 3.8% in costs, yet nonopioid claims added 1.3% to the average change in drug costs, NCCI found.