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ST. LOUIS — Workers' compensation pharmacy costs took on an extra $2.1 billion in 2011 due to unnecessary use of more expensive drugs, according to a new report by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.
In its 2011 Express Scripts "Workers' Compensation Drug Trend Report," the PBM found that use of higher-cost medications when therapeutically equivalent, lower-cost alternatives were available accounted for nearly all of the $2.1 billion in wasted pharmacy-related spending last year for payers that implement and optimize workers' compensation pharmacy benefit management programs. About 125 million people are eligible for workers' compensation benefits in the United States, and about 4.2 million suffer from a work-related injury or illness each year, according to ESI.
The drugs with the highest annual cost per user in 2011 were narcotic analgesics, which accounted for 38% of drug spending and 34% of utilization, and the top six therapy classes — which also included anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatory and dermatological medications — accounted for 76.2% of total drug spending.