Report reveals startling increase in painkiller overdose deaths (Risk & Insurance)

From Risk & Insurance: The latest statistics are further evidence of the need to address the growing problem of opioid abuse in the workers’ comp system, including monitoring patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 15,000 deaths from overdoses of powerful painkillers in 2008 — more than three times the number less than 10 years before. The drugs include many prescribed for injured workers, including OxyContin — the number one prescribed drug in workers’ comp, according to the latest research from NCCI.

“We find 35 percent of our samples in workers’ comp don’t contain the drug the physician says is being prescribed,” said Mitch Freeman, vice president of workers’ comp sales for Ameritox, a drug monitoring company. “That’s a huge discrepancy between what is perceived to be taken and what is [taken]. Additionally, almost 25 percent [of the tests] contain a narcotic that the treating physician is not indicating are being prescribed.”

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