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Workers’ comp report shows a significant drop in opioid use


Photo: Enlyte

San Diego — Opioid use related to workers’ compensation claims decreased nearly 10% in 2023, marking one of the largest drops the workers’ comp industry has seen in years, according to a new report.

For its annual Pharmacy Solutions Drug Trends report, property and casualty industry service provider Enlyte examined trends in workers’ comp that its clients experienced over the past year. The report offers an overview of both in- and out-of-network prescriptions (retail and mail order).

All opioid categories showed utilization decreases. That includes the use of sustained-release opioids, which dropped more than 10%.

Opioid alternatives, commonly prescribed to manage acute and chronic pain, also saw decreases in utilization per claim. Use of anticonvulsants fell 7.4%, as did the use of antidepressants (6.1%) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (3%).

Overall, retail and mail order prescription utilization per claim dropped more than 5%.

The report also shows a drop in utilization per claim among all but one of the top 10 therapeutic classes (based on cost): migraine medications, which jumped 17%.

Nearly 280,000 people in the United States died from overdoses involving prescription opioids between 1999 and 2021, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

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