Recent statistics show a program to reduce injured workers’ dependency on opioids is working.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, which administers comp for federal workers, implemented a four-point strategy to reduce opioid use that often leads to misuse and addiction.
- instituted more effective controls at the pharmacy
- tailored treatment more appropriately to individual needs
- issued more meaningful information about the painkillers, and
- aggressively detected and eliminated fraud.
- a 49% reduction in overall opioid use
- a 30% reduction in new opioid prescriptions for injured federal workers, and
- a 91% reduction in injured workers using at least 60 days of the potentially addictive drugs within their first 90 days of being injured.
The OWCP took additional steps, including:
- requiring prior authorization for opioids at the 60-day mark, and
- instituting a policy where injured workers that are newly prescribed these painkillers will be limited to an initial 7-day supply.
Reasons for opioid initiative
As the duration of opioid use immediately after an injury increases, the risk for long-term use (90 days or more) rises.
More than just a few days of use can lead to addiction.
And the total duration of use is the strongest predictor of misuse.
In an article on the Government Executive website, Julia Hearthway, director of the OWCP, writes that the agency “has started to see measurable progress in efforts to reduce opioid dependency” and they are “encouraged by the initial outcomes” of the program.