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Better Strategies Needed to Prevent Injured Workers from Abusing Opioids

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A panel of speakers at the 2014 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference called on workers compensation professionals to devise a “comprehensive strategy” to effectively prevent injured workers from abusing opioid drugs, a report on the Business Insurance web site said Thursday.

Roman Kownacki, Occupational Health Services for Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s medical director, noted that the workers compensation sector have to focus on the increasing rate of opioid addiction among its covered workers as regulators reschedule opioids from Schedule III substances to Schedule II.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced last month that it would be upscheduling hydrocodone combination drugs, which include opioid analgesics, from Schedule III to Schedule II substances starting October 6.

Schedule II medications cannot be refilled under the same prescription, the report said.

Currently, prescriptions cover refills of up to five months and are valid for six months.

Kownacki also noted that opioid can be a gateway drug to heroin abuse.

“Heroin is a cheaper alternative,” he said. “If you follow the chain of progression, it's possible for somebody to get hooked on opiates from a workers' compensation injury and end up with H.I.V. or hepatitis.”

Patti Williams, Huntington Beach, California risk manager, meanwhile recommended doctors and patients to be “educated” in incorporating a “team-based approach” to prevent patients from getting addicted to their prescriptions.

“A good nurse case manager goes a long way,” Williams told audience at the conference. “You get a lot of bang for your buck.”

Dr. Leonard J. Paulozzi, a medical epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, said in 2013 opioid addiction is a “growing problem” among injured workers.

“The overdose rate is highest among people of working age, that is middle-age people,” he told the Insurance Journal.

Paulozzi added that workers who are more vulnerable to opioid addiction are those suffering from back injuries because their doctors tend to overprescribe the medicine. 

“There’s an awful lot of back injuries in the workers’ comp population and subsequent surgery related to back problems, and back pain is one of the most common indications now of use of opioids in the United States,” he said. “And it’s being used frequently for back pain and it’s being used long-term for back pain.”

According to a statement released by the DEA, seven million Americans abuse prescription drugs, including opioid painkillers, which result to “more deaths from prescription drug overdoses than auto accidents.”  

“Over prescription continues to be a problem. Part of the problem is that pain is very subjective and doctors may be afraid that they will under prescribe, leaving their patient uncomfortable and unhappy,” saidBrady Granier, Chief Operating Officer of BioCorRx, Inc. (OTCQB: BICX), the company that developed the Start Fresh Program. 

The Start Fresh Program is a two-tiered program that takes a different approach to addiction rehabilitation. The first phase of the program involves an outpatient medical procedure to embed a specially formulated, biodegradable naltrexone implant under the skin and fatty tissue in the lower abdominal area.

The second tier of the program involves a private, one-on-one coaching program to address the specific needs of the individual and to helphim or her plan for a life free from substance abuse.

For more information on BioCorRx, Inc.’s Start Fresh Program, you may reach the company’s headquarters via phone: 714-462-4880, or visit www.startfreshprogram.com 

The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

 

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