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As companies attempt to compete in this tightened global marketplace every penny matters on the balance sheet. And as “leaner” is the focus, workers’ compensation costs should rank right up there with cost containment measures. Even though injury rates are down, the cost of medicating workers during workers compensation claims has risen since 2007. Recently, PMSI, a pharmacy benefit manager and provider of specialty services for the workers’ compensation market, announced pharmacy spending for workers’ compensation increased by 5.4% in 2008, compared to 3.3% in 2007.

According to an NCCI Winter 2009 study, prescriptions account for 19% of workers’ compensation expenses on an average basis. Industry statistics, however, indicate that prescriptions associated with chronic pain may comprise 30% to 40% of a workers’ compensation claim. Containing these costs is critical, as medication costs are on the rise with many most frequently prescribed medications being unavailable in generic form. It’s amazing how quickly medication costs rise over the duration of a claim, especially where chronic pain is concerned.

Reasons for increased costs, other than chronic pain cases, include physicians increasingly prescribing drugs as part of the treatment plan, increased drug costs, and increased use of antidepressant prescriptions by treating physicians.

With more than 4 million workers injured on the job each year (U.S. Labor Statistics), payers are looking for ways to reduce costs. What can companies do to be pro-active and minimize drug costs associated with workers’ compensation claims?

1. Substitute generic equivalents whenever possible

2. Leverage deeper pharmacy network discounts

3. Employ Medication Therapy Management (MTM) which optimizes a pharmacist’s ability to manage an injured worker’s medications without compromising proper care (can result in savings of tens of thousands of dollars, according to Tron Emptage, RPh, MA, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Progressive Medical, Inc.)

4. Look at how mail-order services can be utilized and increased

5. Implement and review transitional work programs to accommodate injured workers under treatment

Click on the following links to the left to see how your company’s workers’ compensation medication costs can be mitigated.

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