Pennsylvania is among states where physicians are increasingly dispensing prescriptions. A recent study, however, shows that in Pennsylvania medication dispensed by a physician costs significantly more than one dispensed by a pharmacy.
The study, conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute, found that many commonly prescribed medications cost as much as three times more when dispensed by a physician. For example, Vicodin, a narcotic pain medication, cost an average of $1.22 per pill when dispensed by a doctor versus $0.37 per pill when dispensed by a pharmacy.
“In many states across the country, policymakers are debating whether doctors should be paid significantly more than pharmacies for dispensing the same drug,” said Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI’s executive director. “One question for policymakers is whether the large price difference paid when physicians dispense is justified by the benefits of physician dispensing.”
The WCRI study looked at data from workers’ compensation claims in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania data covered over 40,000 workers’ compensation claims during a four-year period, from 2007 to 2011, that included prescriptions filled through March 2012.
In 2011, 23 percent of workers’ compensation prescriptions were dispensed by physicians. Those physicians were paid 38 percent of the total expenditures for prescription medications dispensed for injured workers claiming workers compensation. Those figures represent a 30 percent increase in prescriptions dispensed by physicians and a 100 percent increase in the percentage of total expenditures for prescription medications paid to physicians in the past three years.
Moreover, prices paid to Pennsylvania physicians for many commonly used drugs have noticeably increased over the past three years, while prices paid to pharmacies have stayed the same or even decreased. Vicodin increased 47 percent in price over the past three years when dispensed by a physician; however, during the same period the average price paid for Vicodin dispensed at a pharmacy has changed 2 percent.
The study also looked on drugs that could be purchased over the counter but were also dispensed by physicians. Yet again, the price for physician dispensed drugs was considerably higher than their over-the-counter equivalents. Prilosec OTC, for example, costs approximately $0.67 per pill at Walgreens; however, when dispensed by a Pennsylvania doctor the average price is $7.43 per pill.
If you have been injured in a Pennsylvania workplace accident, you may be entitled to benefits through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. Although the workers’ compensation system is intended to protect injured workers and their families, it can be difficult to navigate. If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights to compensation, contact the workplace injury attorneys at Shor & Levin, the Bulldog Lawyers, by calling 855-631-4775 or by using our online contact form.