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For immediate release: May 27, 2016

Workers' comp opioid prescribing rule approved

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors approved a new opioid prescribing rule aimed at preventing opioid dependence and encouraging physicians to employ current best medical practices when treating injured workers with opioids.

Under the rule, the first of its kind in Ohio, BWC will not reimburse for opioid prescriptions written by physicians who fail to use best medical practices.

"We must ensure best practices are followed at the onset of an injury and throughout the course of treatment so injured workers receive care that improves their condition," said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. "Ohio's injured workers deserve the best possible treatment that addresses their medical needs without facing the life-changing consequences of opioid dependence or addiction."

Best practices include the development of an individualized treatment plan, risk assessment and monitoring of the progress and improvement in function of the worker. The new rule strengthens BWC's peer review process to address physicians who fail to comply with those practices. Corrective actions range from written warnings to removing the physician from BWC's network of approved providers.

The new rule also allows BWC to provide treatment for opioid dependence that arises from the use of opioid medications covered by BWC. Treatment for dependence could include psychological counseling and medication assisted treatment for recovery.

BWC began making improvements to its pharmacy program in 2010 to ensure injured workers receive medications necessary for their recovery without endangering their health. Since the creation of BWC's first-ever formulary, opiate prescriptions have steadily fallen, dropping by 23.8 million doses, or 41 percent, since 2010.

The rule now moves to the Ohio General Assembly's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. If approved there, it becomes effective Oct. 1 this year.

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