New Opioid Controls to Protect Injured Federal Workers

Source: Steven Heap - 123RF

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) has announced the implementation of new opioid controls to protect injured federal workers, to reduce the risk of long-term opioid use.

The new controls impose a 7-day limit on the initial fill of an opioid prescription. The limit follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and is consistent with restrictions now in place in states across the country.

Day-supply limits on initial opioid prescriptions have been a widely used strategy to reduce the chances of unintended chronic opioid use. A limit on additional opioid prescriptions, however, is less common.

The Department has taken the additional step to limit the number of subsequent opioid prescriptions. 

The new policy allows filling three subsequent 7-day opioid prescriptions for a maximum of 28-days, but requires prior Departmental approval for any prescription beyond this period.

To obtain the approval, the prescribing provider must complete a detailed evaluation of the injured worker and certify the medical need for additional opioids.

The Department’s FECA Medical Benefits Examiners will review these evaluations.

According to the OCWP, among injured federal workers, the Department’s latest data shows:

  • 34% decline in overall opioid use;
  • 25% decline in new opioid prescriptions;
  • 54% decline in new opioid prescriptions lasting more than 30 days;
  • 71% drop in claimants with a morphine equivalent dose (MED) of 500 or more; and
  • A 43% drop in users with an MED of 90 or more.