Eliminating Physician Drug Selling is a Workers’ Comp Necessity

Physician-dispensed drug prices in Connecticut dropped about 30 percent, yet stayed 30 to 60 percent higher than pharmacy prices, according to study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) announced today.

This study points to a nagging issue in workers’ comp. That is, doctors in many workers’ compensation systems are able to make significant profits selling drugs.

As I covered in a previous blog, doctors should not be playing the role of pharmacist. Period.

The issue as gained a lot of attention in the past three years or so and for good reason. Why is it, when our nation has opioid epidemic, that doctors can sell drugs without oversight?

To make matters worse, as another WCRI study revealed, doctors still have a long way to go in monitoring their patients on opioids, which is contributing to addiction, abuse and death. Put these two realities together and there are still states that allow doctors to sell opioids to patients when chances are, there is little or no patient monitoring.

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Why is it, when our nation has opioid epidemic,
that doctors can sell drugs without oversight?
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Why it is even legal for doctors to sell drugs directly to patients is beyond my comprehension. Doctors generally charge much more than the local pharmacy. And since injured workers (which the exception of Washington state) do not pay any of the tab, they do not have an incentive to obtain drugs at competitive prices.

The argument in favor of physician dispensing is patient accessibility to medication. This is not a concern in most localities.

In California, doctors were forced to accept prices very close to pharmacy prices. WCRI studied that too. It turned out doctors continued to sell drugs – and patients continued to buy them.

The insurance industry is saving money from this change, but when doctors are pressured to make patient visits shorter, how can they monitor drug use, especially of multiple medications?

To learn more about WCRI’s latest study, check out http://www.wcrinet.org/media_info.html.

That’s my two cents. Please share your opinion in the comments section below.  

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