Opioid abusers cost employers nearly twice as much ($19,450) in medical expenses on average annually as non-abusers ($10,853), according to a recent report on how prescription drugs are affecting the workplace. What’s more, nearly a third of the pain medications abused by employees were paid for by the employer.

In Insurance Journal, Andrew G. Simpson reports on the study by San Francisco-based Castlight Health Inc.: Employers Pay As 32% of Opioid Prescriptions Are Abused: Report.

Simpson quotes study authors:

“The personal impact that opioid painkiller abuse takes on individuals, their friends and family is absolutely tragic,” said Kristin Torres Mowat, senior vice president of health plan and strategic data operations at Castlight Health. “This crisis is also having a significant impact on the nation’s employers, both in the form of direct and indirect costs. From higher spending on healthcare, to lost productivity, to the dangers associated with employees abusing medications in the workplace— these are aspects of the crisis that are too often overlooked in the current discussion.”

The study is one of a number of reports pointing to the high cost of prescription drug and opiod abuse in the workplace. Simpson links to many of these in the article.

Access the full study here: The Opioid Crisis in America’s Workforce

Recent and related articles on opioids

Survey Shows Need to Better Educate on Opioids
At Risk and Insurance, Nancy Grover reports on a study of treating physicians which shows that physicians need more training on opioids, addiction and pain management.

‘You want a description of hell?’ OxyContin’s 12-hour problem
Los Angeles Times investigative report: “… new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.”

More on the opioid crisis and the fentanyl factor
Workers’ Comp Insider reports that Massachusetts has seen a 190% increase in opioid deaths in five years, and many of those deaths show evidence of the confirmed presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Prescription Drug Guidelines: What employers need to know
Our prior post on HR Web Cafe talks about:

  • The scope of the crisis
  • Why should employers care?
  • What employers can do: Tools and resources for workplace programs
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