Efforts to curb the use of opioids in California’s workers’ compensation system appear to be paying off.
New research from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute on prescription drugs used to treat injured workers shows that opioids now account for less than a quarter of all workers’ comp prescriptions in the state, down from nearly a third a decade ago.
Other drugs, such as anti-inflammatories and anticonvulsants, often used as alternative painkillers, now represent a much larger share, the CWCI report shows.
Interestingly, while public attention to the national opioid epidemic began ramping up only in the past few years, the downward trend in California workers’ comp has been going on for longer than that, the report shows.
“This is an issue that has been with us for quite some time, albeit under the radar of mass media coverage until I would say the last five to seven years,” said Alex Swedlow, president of the CWCI. “This problem was some 30 years in the making. It will take a lot of time to fully resolve it.”