Payments for dermatologicals in comp continue to increase

Payments for dermatological agents continue to increase while payments for opioids continue to decline, according to a report released Thursday by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

WCRI said the increase in payments for such drugs applied to skin, usually for pain, is driven by the dispensing of higher-priced products from doctors’ offices and mail-order pharmacies.

The report examined state trends in payments for prescription drugs within workers compensation for non-COVID-19 claims from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2021.

WCRI reports substantial interstate variations in per-claim payments for dermatological agents that ranged from $10 per claim in Minnesota to $312 per claim in Pennsylvania. Payment shares for this drug group increased by at least 10 percentage points in seven states.

“Physician dispensing of dermatological agents contributed to the rapid growth in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia and Michigan; and increases in higher-priced drug products dispensed from certain pharmacies were seen in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and South Carolina,” WCRI said.

The quarterly payments per claim for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs varied widely across states in the first quarter, from $21 per claim in Massachusetts and Minnesota to $129 per claim in Florida. California saw a large increase in payment share and per-claim payments for NSAIDs, driven by a relatively small number of prescriptions for certain drugs at a much higher price, WCRI said.

WCRI said there is still a large variation in payments per claim for opioids despite the continuing decrease in opioid dispensing. The per-claim payment for opioids in the first quarter was $54 in Louisiana, nearly double the second-highest state and more than three times the 28-state median. On the lower end, the per-claim payment for opioids was $3 in California, according to WCRI.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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