Workers’ compensation payers reported an increase of 6.4 percent in their 2014 drug spend, according to CompPharma’s 12th Annual Survey of Prescription Drug Management.
“This increase is significant, especially in light of last year’s survey showing a 3.8 percent decrease in spend,” said CompPharma’s President Joseph Paduda.
This was the first increase since 2009, when payers reported an increase of 9.4 percent. Respondents cited prescribing behavior, narcotics and the growth in prescriptions for compounds as the main cost drivers.
Long-term opioid use retained its spot as payers’ number one issue. Some respondents voiced concerns over the FDA’s apparent willingness to increase the availability of opioids. The introduction of “abuse-deterrent” opioids and evidence of some patients’ determination to overcome their deterrent components were discussed. Payers remain extremely concerned about opioid dependency and addiction.
Compounds and physician dispensing were also on payers’ radars. Most of the physician dispensing comments surrounded patient safety, including the fear that injured workers may take duplicative or very similar drugs or more opioids and have longer claims durations.
“Continuing a pattern we’ve seen for years, payers remain quite concerned about pharmacy,” Paduda said. “This is likely due as much to drugs’ impact on claim duration and total cost as it is to the price of drugs.”
According to the report, nearly all of the respondents have implemented pharmacy management initiatives targeting the top three cost drivers: opioids, compounds and physician dispensing.
The report noted that mail order remains an opportunity for workers’ compensation carriers. Mail order use was down a third of a point from 2013.
Drug testing was utilized by 75 percent of respondents.
The survey is the most comprehensive available and includes current data on drug costs and key metrics as well as top workers’ compensation payers’ perspectives on pharmacy management. A complimentary copy of the 2015 survey can be downloaded from www.comppharma.com.