New studies from Cambridge-based Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) says the average price paid for physician-dispensed Vicodin, a commonly dispensed narcotic pain medication in Maryland and Pennsylvania, was three times more than the price paid for the same drug dispensed at a pharmacy ($1.46 versus $0.37 per pill in Maryland and $1.22 versus $0.37 per pill in Pennsylvania).
According to the studies, the average prices paid to physician-dispensers were often more than double the prices paid for the same drugs dispensed at a pharmacy. Issues related to physician dispensing in Maryland have been debated, but no change has been made.
Physician dispensing has been growing rapidly in Pennsylvania. In 2011, physicians dispensed 23 percent of workers’ compensation prescriptions and were paid 38 percent of what was spent for all prescriptions for injured workers. This was an increase from 17 percent of all prescriptions and 18 percent of total prescription costs three years earlier.
“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 Maryland study found that prices paid to physician-dispensers for many common drugs...
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