DOL aims to reduce feds' opioid use

The U.S. Department of Labor is aiming to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed to federal employees in an attempt to reduce the risk of substance abuse.

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs late last month began instituting procedures to monitor and manage opioid prescription use under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. “When prescribed and used appropriately, opioid drugs can provide necessary and safe pain relief to injured workers. However, opioids carry a risk of substance use disorder and accidental overdose. Due to these safety concerns, we believe these additional monitoring steps are necessary and appropriate,” Gary A. Steinberg, deputy director of OWCP said in a press release.

With the new changes, any physician who prescribes an opioid medication to a patient covered the Federal Employees Compensation Act, must limit the duration of opioid prescriptions to 60 days and a minimum of 30 days as the preferred prescription to manage pain relief. Additionally, no more than two opioids can be prescribed during the same time. A letter stating the medical necessity for anything beyond 60 days would be required.

 “Over the next year, this prior authorization process will be expanded to include individuals who seek to fill new prescriptions for opioid medications. Prior authorization will eventually be extended to other individuals receiving opioid medications in long-term FECA cases,” according to the DOL statement.

Reader comments

Fri, Jul 7, 2017

Given the context of the situation, the patient and a great doctor have discussed the pros and cons about oipoids and their long-term consequences. This decision is between the doctor and the patient and no one has the right to meddle in patient affairs. even the insurance companies often meddle to see if there is a treatment option that is cheaper(under the intent) rather what is more beneficial. This is totally invasion of patient rights. At the same time those taking opioids should be carefully monitored by their health professional.

Thu, Jul 6, 2017

Well what backwards way to start the war on opioids. It is the decision between the patient and their doctor to prescribe an opioid to reduce chronic pain if necessitated. The patient should look at other alternatives to these addicting drugs. They have use for short term pain management after surgery, and for those who have chronic pain caused by cancer and other terminal illnesses. One area that has never been looked at is the pharmaceutical firms who rather spend loads of money advertising a a new product and and reformulate the same drug over and over an example oxycodone rather than spending their efforts on new medications not related to opioids which would be non-addictive and could increase the quality of life for folks currently given opioids. Well that wont happen since big pharma is only interested in large dollar returns for a minimal investment.

Wed, Jul 5, 2017

A mistake. The decision should rest with the doctor and patient. Doctors need to do right by their patients and OWCP needs to stay out of the doctor's office. OWCP needs to stop targeting FECA beneficiaries based on this kind of criteria. Instead, OWCP needs to so THEIR job, and properly decide claims presented to it BASED ON THE EVIDENCE.

Wed, Jul 5, 2017

So there you have it. A Federal Bureaucrat now will be telling your Doctor how to treat you. Making America Great Again...right.

Wed, Jul 5, 2017

Well monitored use of opioids can make all the difference in quality of life for many people. I fear the federal government will, in knee-jerk reaction, make life much more difficult for many, while not really making much of an impact on "the drug trade." Like guns, the criminal element, are always going to have access to drugs. People with diseases like multiple sclerosis should not have to pay the price for the criminal element, nor should they be treated like "drug seekers" when they simply need effective intervention. Go after the criminal element, including drug doctors, drug abusing street users, known celebrity and sports star abuser, and make an example of them if you want. But leave the innocent, suffering normal (non-addicted) people alone. We don't need another PC slippery slope. Common sense and judicial intervention are vital here, but I wouldn't bet on getting it.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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