- A small group of employers is educating workers about prescription drug or opioid abuse, especially painkillers like OxyContin, reports the Wall Street Journal. Government figures show that about 2 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Drug sales nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.
- Cummins Inc., a Columbus, IN, engine-maker, started fighting prescription drug abuse when managers found evidence of drug activity onsite. The company now requires drug-testing for all employees and recommends that they find non-addictive, alternative treatments for health problems.
- The cost of opioid abuse to employers is $19,450 annually in medical expenses, about double the cost for non-abusers. The additional cost to employers is $16.3 billion in lost productivity and increased occurrence of disabling injuries. Private health insurers pay $14 billion dollars of the cost.
Prescription drug addiction is costly for employers. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that prescription drug abuse costs the country $78.5 billion annually. Research by Castlight Health Inc. shows that there’s some type of abuse or addiction in one in three prescription drugs covered by employers’ health plans.
Testing positive for drugs doesn’t have to be a firing offense. Cummins directs employees who test positive into treatment programs and reassigns them if they’re in high-risk or dangerous jobs.
As prescription costs continue to rise across the board, more employers are taking a look at the impact of their drug plans and how they can manage costs. Fighting addiction is one way some employers are trying to stop the hemorrhage of dollars, on top of finding new ways to manage specialty pharmacy more generally.