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New Study Reports More Doctors Are Filling Workers’ Comp Prescriptions

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) of Cambridge, MA has issued a new study that says doctors are filling more prescriptions for workers’ comp patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And in some cases they are getting paid more per pill than a pharmacy.

In an article on Philly.com, the research group, which is funded by insurers and state governments, studied almost 5.7 million prescriptions paid under workers’ comp for nearly 758,000 claims from 2007 to 2011 in 23 states.

But not all doctors fill the prescriptions that he or she writes. For example. New York, Massachusetts, and Texas do not allow this practice.

The study showed that here in Pennsylvania, 20 percent of WC prescriptions were filled by a doctor; in New Jersey it was 18 percent.

In some cases, the study found that the prices paid to doctors for certain drugs, including some painkillers, were higher than those paid to pharmacies.

A recent article by The New York Times noted that some distributors help some doctors set up pharmacies within offices, buy drugs in bulk, and then repackage them. This repackaging allows the distributors and doctors to claim a higher reimbursement price than pharmacies.

The article notes that the WCRI has been criticized by workers’ comp attorneys as well as the American Medical Association (AMA). They has a general policy that says, “Our AMA supports the physician’s right to dispense drugs and devices when it is in the best interest of the patient and consistent with AMA’s ethical guidelines.”