Workers' Comp Article Links Lawyers, Doctors, Pharmacies in Philly

Date: September 28, 2017

Related Content: News State Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Inquirer article raising eyebrows in Harrisburg

A recent article on Philly.com, Talk about an unholy alliance: Lawyers, doctors, and pharmacies investigated the financial relationships between a workers’ comp law firm, physicians, and a pharmacy where injured workers were sent to fill prescriptions. The paper reports that the cost of certain prescriptions was exorbitant:

“Three partners at the firm and its chief financial officer are majority owners of a mail-order pharmacy in the Philadelphia suburbs that has teamed up with a secretive network of doctors that prescribes unproven and exorbitantly priced pain creams to injured workers — some creams costing more than $4,000 per tube.”       Philly.com, Sept. 22, 2017

In light of the article, NFIB has sent a memo to state lawmakers reiterating our support for House Bill 18 which addresses issues related to the prescribing of medications in workers compensation cases. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh), would require the adoption of an evidence-based drug formulary to limit the prescribing of unproven or ineffective drugs and set standards for medications that can be prescribed. NFIB’s memo to lawmakers is posted below:

Memorandum

DATE:                   September 26, 2017

TO:                        Honorable Members of the House of Representatives

FROM:                 Kevin Shivers, Executive State Director

                                Rebecca Oyler, Legislative Director

 

SUBJECT:             HB 18 – Support evidence-based drug formulary in workers’ compensation

On behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business and our 14,000 small business members in Pennsylvania, we are again writing to urge you to support House Bill 18 in light of recent media reports on questionable practices in the prescription of pain management drugs in workers’ compensation.

We have already had conversations with many of you about the troubling article published on Philly.com this past weekend (‘Talk about an unholy alliance’: Lawyers, doctors and pharmacies). We think it strongly makes the case for passing HB 18 in order to prevent the questionable practice of workers compensation plaintiff attorneys, who own pharmacies that have referral relationships with providers, from profiting off the sale of overpriced pain medications at the expense of injured workers and our workers’ compensation system.

HB 18 would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to require the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary for our Workers’ Compensation program. The adoption of a drug formulary will limit the prescription of unproven and ineffective drugs to injured workers and begin to reduce the over-prescription of opioid painkillers by setting evidence-based standards for the medications that can be prescribed for a WC patient.

Importantly, this bill helps address the critical problem of opioid abuse that has gained so much attention in Pennsylvania. To meaningfully address opioid abuse, we must look at the workers’ compensation system. A recent report by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute found that, out of 25 states studied, Pennsylvania had the third highest average amount of opioids received by injured workers and stood 78 percent higher than the median state[1].

NFIB members continue to report workers’ compensation costs as a significant challenge for their business. Overall, workers’ compensation premiums remain relatively high in Pennsylvania as compared to other states. A recent report from the National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation & Workers’ Compensation[2] places Pennsylvania 12th highest in cost per covered employee and 22 percent higher than the average of all states.

We ask that you support HB 18. Thank you in advance for your consideration. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids, 3rd Edition, Worker’s Compensation Research Institute. http://www.wcrinet.org/new_electronic_rpts/wcri181.pdf June 2016

[1] Fiscal Data for State Workers’ Compensation Systems 2004-2013, National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation & Workers’ Compensation. August 2015.

[1] Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids, 3rd Edition, Worker’s Compensation Research Institute. http://www.wcrinet.org/new_electronic_rpts/wcri181.pdf June 2016

[2] Fiscal Data for State Workers’ Compensation Systems 2004-2013, National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation & Workers’ Compensation. August 2015.

 

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