Austin, TX – Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation Rod Bordelon recently presented testimony to the Texas House Committee on Public Health regarding the recent decline in the number and cost of opioid drug prescriptions in the Texas workers’ compensation system. Bordelon said the adoption of new pharmacy rules has produced positive results.
Since the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) implemented a closed pharmacy formulary for the treatment of injured employees, Bordelon told Committee Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst and committee members, the number of “not-recommended” or “N-drug” prescriptions have declined 74 percent and the cost of those prescriptions has dropped 82 percent from 2010 to 2011. Opioid drug prescriptions have fallen 10 percent since the implementation of the formulary. The closed pharmacy formulary took effect for new workers’ compensation claims on September 1, 2011 and for older claims on September 1, 2013.
“There is no disputing the growing concern over the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opioids,” Bordelon said. “It’s a serious issue in health care, including workers’ compensation.”
“We are seeing significant downward trends in opioid drug prescriptions in the treatment of injured employees in Texas,” he said. “The new closed formulary, along with evidence-based treatment guidelines, utilization reviews and enforcement efforts, has helped combat overutilization of unnecessary drugs in Texas, while safeguarding medically necessary care that promotes an injured employee’s ability to return to work quickly and safely.”
The closed formulary includes all FDA-approved drugs, except for investigational and experimental drugs and excludes drugs listed as “not recommended” in Appendix A of DWC’s adopted treatment guidelines. Under the formulary, prescriptions for “N drugs” must be preauthorized by the insurance carrier before being dispensed to an injured employee.
Bordelon’s testimony was invited to address an interim charge from Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Straus. The Committee on Public Health was asked to “assess the prevalence of nonmedical prescription drug use in the state (including opioid analgesics, stimulants, tranquilizers, and sedatives) and address adverse health impacts.”