CAMBRIDGE, MA – The cost per claim of prescription drugs used to treat injured workers in North Carolina was 14 percent higher than in most study states, according to a new study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).
The 16-state study by the Cambridge, MA-based WCRI found that the average payment per claim for prescription drugs in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system was $467—14 percent higher than the median of the study states.
The main reason for the slightly higher prescription costs in North Carolina was the higher utilization of prescription drugs, especially muscle relaxants, and higher prices paid for some common drugs.
The WCRI study, Prescription Benchmarks for North Carolina, found that the average number of pills per claim with prescriptions in North Carolina was 13 percent higher than the 16-state median.
In particular, the average number of pills per claim for two muscle relaxants, Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril®) and Metaxalone (Skelaxin®), was10 to 20 percent higher in North Carolina than in the median study state.
The average price per pill paid to pharmacies in North Carolina was slightly higher than the median state. For medications that were commonly used to treat injured workers in North Carolina, the prices per pill paid to pharmacies in North Carolina were higher for some common drugs and typical for others.
The study also noted that while physician dispensing of prescription drugs accounted for only 9 percent of all prescriptions in North Carolina, some physicians who wrote and dispensed prescription drugs were paid much higher prices than if the same prescription was filled at a pharmacy. These higher prices occurred frequently in a number of states where physician dispensing was common, said WCRI.
The WCRI study is the first in an annual series that benchmarks the cost, price and utilization of pharmaceuticals in workers’ compensation.
Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute