Louisiana: Comp drugs costs 75 percent higher than study states
In a 16-state study, WCRI found that the average payment per claim for prescription drugs in the Louisiana workers' comp system was $721 -- 75 percent higher than the median of the study states. Researchers said the main reasons for the higher prescription costs in Louisiana included higher utilization of prescription drugs, higher prices paid to pharmacies, more frequent prescriptions of brand name drugs, and higher prices paid to physicians who dispensed medications directly to their patients.
The study, Prescription Benchmarks for Louisiana, found that the average number of pills per claim in Louisiana was 61 percent higher than the 16-state median, and the average number of prescriptions per claim was 55 percent higher than that in the median state. In particular, researchers noted that Louisiana doctors wrote prescriptions for certain prescription drugs more often than doctors in other states. The percentage of claims with sleep inducing, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety medications was 10 percent higher than the 16-state median.
The average prices paid to pharmacies for common drugs were also higher than the median study state due, in part, to the Louisiana's high pharmacy fee schedule. For example, researchers said the price paid for the painkiller Vicodin, which was received by 68 percent of Louisiana injured workers, was 27 percent higher than the median of the 16 states.
The study found that Louisiana physicians wrote prescriptions for brand names more often. Twenty-one percent of all prescriptions were those for brand names when generic equivalents or alternatives were available, compared to 15 percent in the median state. Researchers also found that Louisiana physicians who dispensed prescription drugs at their offices were often paid higher than what pharmacies received for the same prescription.
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June 14, 2010
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