When workers get hurt on the job more are getting their medication directly from their doctors, rather than from a pharmacy, according to a new study.
It may be easier for the patient to have the doctor dispense drugs, but it is driving up costs for employers, according to the study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.
The prices paid to physicians is generally higher than that paid to pharmacies, the study found.
The cost of Vicodin quadruples when dispensed by physicians compared to the pharmacy. The drug cost an average is $1.48 per pill at the physicians’ offices and 36 cents per pill at the pharmacy.
The study analyzed 5.7 million prescriptions paid under workers’ compensation for about 758,000 claims from 23 states, including Maryland. It examined the time periods from 2007 and 2008 to 2010 and 2011. The 23 states represent more than two-thirds of the workers’ compensation benefits paid in the United States.
The study also found that prices paid for physician-dispensed prescriptions increased for several drugs commonly dispensed by physicians, while prices paid to pharmacies for the same drugs changed little or fell. For example, the average price per pill paid to physicians for Vicodin increased by 78 percent, 60 percent for Mobic and 24 percent for Flexeril over three years. The prices paid to pharmacies for the same drug fell by 8 percent, 21 percent, and 19 percent respectively.
Nearly 47 percent of all prescription drug spending in Maryland for injured workers was paid to physicians for drugs dispensed at their offices, rather than at pharmacies. That was compared to about 36 percent three years prior.
Find more information about the study here: http://www.wcrinet.org/result/phys_disp_wc_result.html.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times