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Ohio BWC says battle against worker opioid addiction is working

As our readers know, painkiller addiction is a major problem in the U.S., and Ohio is no exception. Many times, people living with chronic pain become increasingly dependent on opioids or similar drugs. They take more and more, going from doctor to doctor to get prescriptions, and when that fails, buying drugs on the street.

These addictions often have their beginnings in a workplace injury. Here in Ohio, before 2011, nearly 20 percent of claimants receiving workers’ compensation benefits had opioid prescriptions large enough to put them at very real risk of physical addiction.

This is why BWC is touting its pharmacy management program, which includes what is called a “closed formulary” for prescription drugs. As the Columbus Dispatch explains, a closed formulary is essentially a list of set drugs and dosages BWC allows claimants in workers’ comp cases to take.

Officials consider a worker to be opioid dependent when they take the equivalent of at least a dozen 5 mg. tablets of Vicodin every day for 60 days. Since implementing the closed formulary, the number of opioid dependent Ohioans on workers’ compensation has dropped from 9.343 in 2011 to 4,723 in 2015, BWC says.

BWC wants guidelines for prescribing opioids and related workers’ comp rules put into the state administrative code. Ohio would be the first state in the country to take that step toward fighting opioid addiction among injured workers.

Besides reducing painkiller addiction, the program has saved taxpayers millions of dollars, the Dispatch reports.

From the employer perspective, anything that helps injured workers return to the job healthy is welcome.

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