Few Physicians Writing High Volume of Fentanyl Rx for Workers’ Comp
A small percentage of physicians who treat patients under California's workers' compensation system write the majority of prescriptions for fentanyl, a painkiller that is 100 times stronger than morphine, according to a study by the California Workers' Compensation Institute, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
For the study, the institute analyzed workers' compensation data between 2005 and 2009.
Schedule II drugs -- such as fentanyl, methadone and oxycodone -- have been approved for the treatment of certain medical issues. However, the drugs have a high potential for addiction and misuse.
According to a CWCI study released in March, about 3% of physicians in the state's workers' compensation system are writing more than half of prescriptions for Schedule II drugs.
The latest CWCI study found that the top 10% of workers' compensation physicians who prescribe Schedule II drugs account for 84% of fentanyl prescriptions. Researchers did not evaluate why the small group of physicians prescribed a largeÂ percentage of the drug.
The study also found that:
- 20% of California workers who received powerful painkillers for on-the-job injuries were prescribed fentanyl; and
- Of the patients receiving fentanyl, 11% were prescribed a formulation of the drug intended for end-stage cancer pain, even though none of the patients had a known cancer diagnosis (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/8).