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A new study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute examines the effects of must-access prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and recent regulations limiting the duration of initial opioid prescriptions on various outcomes for workers with work-related injuries.

“The policies examined were part of an extensive effort by stakeholders at local, state, and national levels to address potential excessive opioid prescribing and opioid abuse,” said John Ruser, president and CEO of WCRI. “Must-access PDMPs reduced the amount of opioids prescribed to workers without changing the likelihood that workers had any opioid prescriptions.”

The study, Effects of Opioid-Related Policies on Opioid Utilization, Nature of Medical Care, and Duration of Disability, explores how policies limiting access to opioid prescriptions contributed to changes in opioid utilization and how they altered other medical care related to the management of pain. The study estimates the effects of state-level opioid policies by comparing outcomes in states that adopted the policies relative to states that did not, while accounting for other factors that could have influenced changes in opioid utilization and the other outcomes studied.

In California, the prescription drug monitoring program is called Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). CURES is a database of Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V controlled substance prescriptions dispensed in California. Section 11165.4 of the Health and Safety Code, sets forth the requirements for mandatory consultation of CURES.

The following are among the study’s findings:

– – Must-access PDMPs reduced the amount of opioids prescribed by 12 percent in the first year.
– – Regulations limiting duration of initial opioid prescriptions resulted in a 19 percent decrease in the amount of opioids among claims with opioids.
– – For most injuries, there was little evidence that workers increased the use of other types of care due to must-access PDMPs. However, for neurologic spine pain cases, the policies resulted in an increase in the number of non-opioid pain medications and an increase in whether workers had interventional pain management services.
– – Must-access PDMPs and limits on initial prescriptions had little impact on the duration of temporary disability benefits captured within 12 months after an injury.

The analysis includes information for workers injured between October 1, 2009, and March 31, 2018, in 33 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These states represent 85 percent of benefits paid in 2017.

The authors of this study are David Neumark and Bogdan Savych. To learn more about this study or to download a copy, visit