Today’s issue of WorkCompRecap features the release of a new analysis from CWCI that found that the types of drugs used to treat injured workers in California and the distribution of payments for those medications has shifted dramatically over the past decade.
Key findings included that NSAIDs, often used as non-narcotic alternatives to treat pain, surpassed opioids to become the top workers’ comp drug group in 2016, and in 2021 they increased to a record 34% of the prescriptions dispensed to injured workers in the state. Opioids’ share of workers’ comp prescriptions continued to decline, falling to 10.2% last year, however CWCI noted that most of the decline in the past decade occurred between 2012 and 2019, as opioid’s share has been relatively stable over the past 3 years. On the spend front, CWCI noted that opioids consumed only 5.8% of prescription dollars (vs 26.2% in 2012), and with opioid payments down, NSAIDs share of prescription dollars has jumped significantly over the same time period. Notably, while inexpensive ibuprofen and naproxen accounted for almost two-thirds of all NSAIDs dispensed, two low-volume, high-priced NSAIDs, fenoprofen calcium and ketoprofen, made NSAIDs the most expensive drug category.