At Express Scripts, safe and effective treatment is our top priority. When prescribing trends emerge that pose risk to patient safety, we create solutions to mitigate any potential harmful effects.
As such, direct communication with injured workers highlights the concerns of compounded medications and encourages safer drug choices.
The Rising Concern of Compounded Medications
According to the Express Scripts 2013 Workers’ Compensation Drug Trend Report, use of compounded medications among injured workers has risen 72% in the last year.
Compounded medications are tailored drugs prepared by mixing, combining or altering ingredients. The drugs generally do not have standardized dosages and duration for use, and do not undergo the same rigorous drug review process as commercially available drugs, which are approved by the FDA.
We contributed to a recent study, which found no clinical evidence that compounded medications are more effective than commercially available, manufactured drugs.
Moreover, the cost impact of compounded medications on payers has jumped significantly. The average cost of a compounded prescription in workers’ compensation is $1,299 – which at 29.8% was the largest increase across any therapy class in 2013.
Express Scripts has been proactively addressing this rising issue through physician education and our prior authorization capabilities.
At the point of sale, clients have the option of reviewing all compounds for authorization. Retrospectively, Express Scripts sends letters to physicians encouraging the use of commercially available, cost-effective alternatives where appropriate. As a result of these communications, physicians have discontinued filling compounded medications for 42.3% of injured workers, who continue to be able to access more affordable, clinically appropriate alternatives on the market.
But we’re taking this one step further.
Communications to Injured Workers
Our extensive research in the behavioral sciences has shown that injured workers want to do the right thing – for their health and safety, as well as for their employers regardless of financial incentives.
Messaging directly to the injured worker allows us to:
- Educate about the safety concerns of compounded medications
- Inform about drug and treatment choices
- Encourage increased communication with physicians about treatment
- Highlight the impact to employers from the rising cost of compounds
Opening the lines of communication among injured workers, physicians and Express Scripts to educate about potential safety concerns ensures a safe and effective treatment plan.
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