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For immediate release: Sept. 30, 2016

New workers' comp opioid prescribing rule effective Oct. 1

Rule linking best prescribing practices to prescription coverage first of its kind in Ohio law

COLUMBUS - A new rule governing the prescribing of opioids to treat Ohioans injured on the job takes effect Saturday.

The changes target the prevention of opioid dependence by encouraging appropriate prescribing by physicians certified by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC).

"This is a major step forward in protecting the health and safety of Ohio's injured workers," said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. "While opioids often play an important and necessary role in recovery from a workplace injury, long-term use can become a hindrance to recovery. This rule provides oversight essential to balancing the appropriate care required for recovery and overprescribing that endangers the health of injured workers."

Reimbursement for opioid prescriptions will now be limited to claims in which current best medical practices are followed. Those practices include the development of an individualized treatment plan, risk assessment and close monitoring of the progress and improvement in function of the worker. The goal is to ensure best practices are followed at the onset of an injury and throughout the course of treatment.

BWC will also now 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. Finally, a new peer-review process addresses a prescriber's failure to comply with best practices. Corrective action steps range from warning letters to decertifying physicians from BWC’s network of approved providers.

BWC began making improvements to its pharmacy program in 2010. Since the creation of BWC's first-ever formulary, there has been an ongoing reduction in prescriptions for opiates, as well as commonly overused drugs. Total opioid doses have decreased by 18.9 million, or 44 percent, since 2010.

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