In response to a collaborative investigation conducted by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, three Republican Senators are developing legislation to control the drugs Pennsylvania’s injured workers receive. Journalists from both major newspapers uncovered strong ties between Philadelphia-area doctors and lawyers and the pharmacies where they send injured workers. Lawmakers want to create a standard drug formulary that would eliminate unnecessary and expensive medications.
The Inquirer and the Daily News discovered that partners in one of the state’s largest Workers’ Compensation law firms are also majority owners in a Haverford mail-order pharmacy, called Workers First. The Workers’ Compensation firm sends its clients to specific doctors, requesting their prescriptions be filled at Workers First.
Many of these prescriptions are for highly-addictive opioids and specially-made or compounded drugs. Compounded medications are not FDA-approved and cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Workers First has charged up to $4,000 for a single tube of compounded pain cream. Senators creating this new bill call the ties between Workers’ Compensation lawyers and pharmacies “ethically questionable.”
If the bill passes, a standard Workers’ Compensation drug list would limit the drugs patients could receive – much like formularies used by Medicare and many other health insurance plans.
The bill has some opponents including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. The Daily News and Inquirer investigation found some questionable ties between Wolf and Workers First pharmacy. Governor Wolf recently attended a dinner hosted by Insight Medical Partners, a local firm that owns a portion of Workers First. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law firm tied to Workers First is also hosting an upcoming fundraiser for the Governor.
Wolf says he opposes a Workers’ Compensation drug formulary because it would make it difficult for injured workers to obtain the medication they need and because it fails to address the bigger problem of opioid addiction.
Moving the Formulary Bill Forward
The three republican Senators behind the bill believe that a drug formulary could curb Workers’ Compensation costs. They also believe that the bill will drastically reduce unnecessary opioid prescriptions that often lead to addiction. Pennsylvania is one of the leading states for Workers’ Compensation opioid prescriptions. The bill is scheduled to be introduced to Congress in the coming weeks.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gross Protect Your Workers’ Compensation BenefitsIf you suffer a work-related illness or injury, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gross. Call 267-589-0090 or complete our online form to schedule a free initial consultation.