August 2, 2019

WCRI Reports on Interstate Variation in Dispensing Opioids

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) recently published Interstate Variations in Dispensing of Opioids, 5th Edition, a study that examines the prevalence and trends in the dispensing of opioids in 27 states.

This report looks at 575,000 nonsurgical claims with more than seven days of lost time from injuries between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2016, with medical treatments received through March 31, 2018, capturing an average of 24 months of experience. This sample includes over 4.3 million prescriptions and represents 37-72% of workers’ comp claims in each state.

According to the findings, opioid prescribing dropped significantly in the 27 study states, ranging from an 8% drop in Illinois to a 25% drop in California. At over 160 pages, this report features various insights into the many study states included. The following are highlights of the report:

  • In California, 38% of claims with prescriptions received opioids from 2016-2018, a significant drop from 62% from 2012-2014
  • Prescriptions dropped 20-22% in Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, and New York, while prescriptions dropped 15-19% in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey
  • Average morphine milligram equivalence (MME) per worker in the first two years of a claim decreased in nearly all states; 17 states saw reductions of 30% or more, while Iowa, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin experienced 42-48% drops in MME. But beating them out, California, Connecticut, and Kentucky experienced MME reductions of 50% or higher
  • Delaware, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and New York saw the highest average MME per worker. Delaware and Louisiana saw MME per claim go beyond 3,200 milligrams, more than three times the 27-state median
  • Opioid dispensing was still prevalent in several states, with the percentage of injured workers’ receiving opioids ranging from 32% in New Jersey and 70% in Arkansas and Louisiana
  • While fewer injured workers receive opioids, there has been no proportional increase in the percent of workers receiving non-opioid pain medications

For further insights, download the report from WCRI.

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