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Kentucky law led to drop in opioid prescribing to injured workers

August 30, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A study has found that Kentucky legislation that established standards for opioid prescribing led to a substantial reduction in the number of workers receiving the drugs in the first year after an injury.

Conducted by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, the study examined the impact of the state's House Bill 1, which took effect in mid-2012. The legislation regulated the state's pain clinics and mandated prescriber use of the state's prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). The study, based on a review of more than 21,000 workers' compensation claims, found that the percentage of injured workers receiving opioids in the first year after an injury dropped below 50%, from 54% before the law was adopted to 44% after adoption.

Reductions in opioid prescribing were larger for younger workers (ages 25 to 39) than older workers. However, opioid dispensing continued to occur at a higher rate in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky than in other parts of the state.

“The findings of this study are based on Kentucky data, but the lessons may be useful for policymakers and stakeholders in other states who are considering policy solutions to address prescription opioid utilization in their jurisdictions, while balancing the needs of patients who may need opioids for pain management,“ institute president and CEO John Ruser said in a news release.