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Ohio BWC discusses its impact on the opioid crisis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 78 people die every day from opiate overdoses. As the number of opiate overdoses continued to rise, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) responded with changes to its formulary program.

Since 2011, the BWC has been attempting to reduce opioid dependency with notable success. The bureau's pharmacy director recently addressed members of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Counsel, explaining the effects of the changes.

The event was held just days after President Trump stated that the federal government would tackle the opioid crisis, which he described as a national emergency. This additional assistance would be particularly beneficial for Ohio, a state that has constantly been at the center of this epidemic.

The Ohio BWC currently adheres to guidelines set forth by the Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency that established an action plan to reverse the opioid epidemic, while still providing patients with effective pain relief. By adhering to the FDA's guidelines restricting dosages, the bureau works with the FDA to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries from overdoses.

Ohio has already seen positive results since the changes to its formulary program. These changes were implemented in 2011. They include the creation of a database for assessing individual opioid usage, the coverage of addiction treatment and rehabilitation, the replacement of brand name drugs with generic ones and the denial of coverage for concurrent immediate release, opioids and post-op sustained release opioids.

Those who attended the event were pleased to hear that Ohio has already seen 44 percent fewer injured workers using opioids and a $22 million decline in the cost of opioids. The bureau's pharmacy clinical operations manager notes that those who suffer workplace injuries and receive medication through workers' compensation often have additional health problems for which they are on other forms of medication.

Some medications may interact and cause harmful side effects. Therefore, one of the bureau's plans to further reduce the number of deaths from prescription opioids is to devise a way for pharmacists to review all the medications that patients are taking, enabling them to screen for possible harmful interactions.

Source: The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, "Ohio agency reduces prescription opioids," Erin O'Neill, Aug. 17, 2017

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