Workers Hurt on the Job Get Medication Directly From Doctors, Driving Up Costs

A new study finds a growing number of workers who get hurt on the job are getting their medication directly from their physicians, instead of pharmacies, which is driving up costs.

For example, the cost of Vicodin is four times higher when it is dispensed by doctors instead of pharmacies, according to the study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).

The researchers analyzed 5.7 million prescriptions paid under workers compensation from 23 states, from 2007 to 2008, and from 2010 to 2011. During that time period, the average price per pill paid to doctors for Vicodin rose 78 percent, while prices paid to pharmacies fell by 8 percent, The Baltimore Sun reports.

“There is a great discrepancy between what doctors and pharmacies charge for dispensing the same drug,” Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI’s Executive Director, said in a news release. “One question for policymakers is whether the large price difference paid when physicians dispense is justified by the benefits of physician dispensing.”

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    July 23, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    In our state the motivation behind this is that physicians will bill Workers Comp, but pharmacies will not. If the employee has a prescription filled at the pharmacy, they must pay and be reimbursed. A little additional reporting could have provided more insight.

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    Dr. Chris Steward

    July 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    I had no idea that an MD could legally dispense narcotics from his/her office & charge for it. Is this allowed in all states? Chris

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