Impact of Kentucky Opioid Reforms

By Vennela Thumula

August 29, 2017 Related Topics: Prescription Drugs and Opioids, Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids

This study examined the initial impact of Kentucky’s House Bill (HB) 1 on opioid dispensing to newly injured workers. HB 1, which went into effect on July 1, 2012, regulated pain clinics and established standards for dispensing and prescribing of opioids, including mandating prescribers to query the state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) prior to prescribing opioids. As of December 2016, 20 states have adopted comprehensive prescriber use mandates for PDMPs, starting with Kentucky. Findings from our study provide initial evidence of how such reforms may impact opioid dispensing to injured workers.

The findings are based on data comprising over 21,000 Kentucky workers’ compensation claims with injuries from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2013, and nearly 91,000 prescriptions associated with those claims. The prescription utilization of each worker was observed for 12 months following the date of injury. Injury year 2011 represents the experience of injured workers prior to the effective date of HB 1, and 2013 represents the experience immediately after the implementation of the reforms. 2012 is partially post-reform. The data included represent 44 percent of workers’ compensation claims in Kentucky.

Impact of Kentucky Opioid Reforms. Vennela Thumula. August 2017. WC-17-31.




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Research Questions:

  • Did the frequency and amount of opioids dispensed change after the reforms?
  • Did the reforms have a similar impact on all injured workers in Kentucky?
  • Did the prescribing patterns of pain medications change after the reforms?
  • Did the frequency and intensity of use of other pain management services (e.g., pain management injections, physical medicine, and surgery) change?

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