Average comp pharmacy spending jumps 6.5 percent, report finds
The average amount spent on pharmaceuticals for injured workers increased by 6.5 percent in 2009, according to recently issued data.
PMSI, a nationwide provider of specialty products and services for the workers' compensation market, released the findings of its 2010 Annual Drug Trends Report. The study examines annual workers' comp pharmacy spend trends based on PMSI's analysis of millions of retail and mail-order pharmacy transactions from the past year. The latest report identified the key drivers of pharmacy spend increases in 2009, including the impact of price, utilization, drug mix, and a review of the most commonly seen therapeutic classes in workers' comp. Researchers also identified strategies for pain management, noting that 75 percent of drug spend in workers' comp is related to medications that manage pain.
Among the highlights of the study, researchers found that:
- Growth attributed to increase in prescription price, utilization. Researchers found that the growth in total spend was attributed to increases in prescription price of 4.7 percent and net change in utilization of 1.7 percent. The rise in average wholesale price of 6.3 percent remained the primary driver for price increases. The study noted, however, that a 3.6 increase in mail-order utilization helped control average prescription price.
- Days of supply drove utilization changes. The study noted that utilization changes were driven largely by a 2.2 percent increase in the days of supply per prescription from 27.6 days in 2008 to 28.2 days in 2009.
- New generics made a light impact. New generic medications decreased the average spend per injured worker by 0.12 percent, or $2.31, in 2009. Overall, researchers found that generic efficiency remained stable at 92 percent.
- Fewer physicians choosing narcotic analgesics in initial pain control treatment. Maria Sciame, executive director of clinical services at PMSI, said the use of narcotic analgesics for the treatment of new injuries decreased 7.8 percent, indicating that narcotic analgesics are being used less often as first-line agents to control pain.
"This is a welcomed change to see a decrease in the inappropriate use in high-risk narcotic analgesics," she said. "There are a couple of factors that might be driving this trend, including a growing awareness of the dangers of the wanton ordering of opioidsand increasing standards of care."
Overall, however, narcotic analgesics topped the list of the top 10 drug classes for spend at 34.7 percent. This was followed by anticonvulsants at 11.2 percent and skeletal muscle relaxants at 7.9 percent.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 26, 2010
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