Costs For Prescription Drugs For Injured Workers Among The Lowest In Washington State, Says A New WCRI Study

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The rising costs of pharmaceuticals are leading many to consider ways to reduce unnecessary use of pharmaceuticals. To shed light on key cost drivers, this study compares the cost, price, and utilization of prescription drugs in Washington with 16 other states.

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There may be some important lessons for policy makers in other states from the regulatory approaches used by Washington State.

The high cost for prescription drugs for injured workers in some states is a major issue for policymakers, but not in Washington State where costs were among the lowest compared to 17 other states, according to a new study by Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).

“There may be some important lessons for policy makers in other states from the regulatory approaches used by Washington State,” says Dr. Richard A. Victor, WCRI’s Executive Director.

WCRI’s study, Prescription Benchmarks for Washington, points out several state policies and programs that may have allowed Washington to keep prescription costs low — 40 percent lower than the median state, including:

  •     A formulary of approved drugs and therapeutic interchange,
  •     Lower than typical pharmacy fee schedule,
  •     Mandatory generic substitution, and
  •     Infrequent physician dispensing.

The study also provides a wealth of detailed price and utilization statistics that may be useful when debating such issues as: pharmacy fee schedules, physician prescribing patterns, medical cost drivers, and laws that mandate the use of generics.

WCRI is based in Cambridge, MA and is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization supported in its public policy research by employers, insurers, insurance regulators and state regulatory agencies as well as several state labor organizations. For more information, visit: http://www.wcrinet.org.

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Andrew Kenneally
Workers Compensation Research Institute
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