Federal Government Funds Program for Medication Safety and Opioid Use

Federal Government Funds Program for Medication Safety and Opioid Use

The U.S. Department of Labor renews its contract with a program through Coventry Health Care Workers’ Compensation Inc. The program will improve and expand medication safety for injured federal workers in an effort to fight opioid misuse.

The U.S. government is seeking ways to educate the injured employees on medication use, especially the implications of taking opioids as treatment. The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC) is continuing to work with Coventry Health Care Workers’ Compensation Inc. The program between the two parties will focus on medication safety and quality initiatives for injured federal workers.

Over the next year, a number of new, modern, and accessible feature will be made available to workers, prescribers, pharmacies and Department staff. Among available features are the following perks:

  • Injured workers will have increased access to medications through a network of pharmacies.
  • Using a web portal, injured workers will be able to search for their medication authorization status and be able to get their medications approved through prescribers.
  • Department staff will gain access to better knowledge on prescribed medications using a web-based system that goes into extensive detail on injured workers’ medication regimens and provides clinical recommendations.

The program will not only increase safe accessibility and convenience for drug consumers, but it is committed to helping pharmacists stay educated on the risks and considerations associated with each drug and dosage. When drugs are sold to the consumer, safety checks will notify the dispensing pharmacist of any major safety precautions such as allergy warnings, drug-to-drug interactions, max dosages, duplication of therapy and other considerations.

Coventry will also expand its team of available pharmacists and nurses so the Department will be able to review a list of injured worker medication profiles and perform outreach to prescribers. Previously, this feature has only been available to injured workers who have been prescribed opioids at high dosages. Now, the program will apply to injured workers at many dosage levels.

The program will ideally help people manage their opioid prescriptions more safely, but it could also have potential economic benefits. The Department plans to reduce costs charged to federal agencies for prescription medications. The Department anticipates millions of dollars in annual savings for the federal government, accomplished through the following: lower prices for medications, safety and quality improvement initiatives, industry-proven strategies like leveraging generic medications over brand name medications, and the detection of fraud, waste, and abuse.

The potential economic savings would have a significant impact on the Coventry contract that costs an average of nearly $1 billion annually (in reference to workers’ compensation healthcare costs of injured workers and the work performed under Coventry’s contract). DFEC provides wage replacement benefits, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits to injured federal workers.

"Today is a very encouraging day for the effective treatment of injured federal workers. We have made significant improvements in reducing opioid use, and will now have additional tools necessary to expand efforts to improve the safety and quality of medication delivery for all injured federal workers, while also being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella.

OWCP's mission is to protect the interests of workers who are injured or become ill on the job, their families, and their employers by making timely, appropriate, and accurate decisions on claims, providing prompt payment of benefits, and helping injured workers return to gainful work as early as is feasible.

Read more about the topic on the Department of Labor’s news release.
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