The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has begun instituting procedures aimed at monitoring and managing opioid prescription usage under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. OWCP’s Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation provides benefits for federal employees who sustain a workplace injury or illness.

Effective June 26, 2017, the DFEC established a prior authorization process for all compounded medications containing opioids. Any physician who wishes to prescribe a compounded opioid medication must complete a Letter of Medical Necessity certifying that they have considered other treatment options and they are appropriately monitoring the use of these highly addictive medications.

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.

“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,” said Gary A. Steinberg, deputy director of OWCP.

President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order on March 29, 2017, establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission will work closely with the White House Office of Innovation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 15,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioid medications in 2015.