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Closed formulary bill may reduce medication access

On April 3, a Louisiana lawmaker filed a bill that would combat overutilization of opioids by implementing a closed drug formulary. Essentially, closed formularies would require proof that non-formulary medications are absolutely needed before they can be prescribed to injured workers.

In Louisiana, these medications, also known as "N" drugs, would include narcotics and compounded drugs. Additional drug types that would be classified as "N" drugs would include experimental drugs or drugs that are not included on the closed formulary list. There will reportedly be some drugs listed on the closed formulary. These drugs, which will be classified as "Y" drugs, will not need preauthorization prior to being prescribed.

Several states, including Ohio, Texas and Washington, have already implemented closed formularies. These states reportedly saw a drop in workers' compensation medical costs. The Texas closed formulary law, for example, went into effect in 2011 for new injuries and 2013 for all injuries. The state reported a long-term decline in opioid use. Because Louisiana was found to have more long-term opioid users than many other states, it was hoped that this bill could also reduce opioid use as it has in other states.

Employees who suffer an injury while on the job may potentially file for workers' compensation benefits. However, if Louisiana adopts a closed formulary, it may become difficult for some injured workers to receive the pain medication that they need as part of their recovery. An attorney may assist the injured employee in providing medical documentation that demonstrates the severity of the injury in order to obtain the benefits and treatment that they are entitled to.

Source: Business Insurance, "Louisiana weighs closed drug formulary to combat opioid abuse," Stephanie Goldberg, 04/08/2015

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