By: Louise Esola, Business Insurance, May 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation in August will begin phasing in opioid prescribing guidelines for federal workers who are injured on the job, according to an announcement made earlier this month.

Citing safety concerns over the overprescribing of opioids nationwide, the new procedures include limits on how long an opioid may be prescribed — 60 days maximum in two separate 30-day fills — and how many different kinds of opioids can be prescribed — no more than two at a time — along with requirements that physicians complete a letter of medical necessity if opioids are prescribed outside of the guidelines.

“All subsequent prescriptions will require that an (letter of medical necessity) be received and reviewed by claims staff before opioid medication is authorized and dispensed,” the May 9 announcement states.

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act program administrators are not only requiring doctors to comply with the new regulations, but that they be “mindful” of whether an opioid is necessary.

“We strongly urge our claimants and their treating physicians to be mindful of safety concerns relating to opioid medications and to consider alternative drugs that do not pose the same risks for addiction, dependency, and overdose,” the announcement reads.

Regulators are also asking that physicians of patients on stronger opioid dosages consider tapering their dosages in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease guidelines, which aim to sway prescribers away from stronger doses.
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