Opioid Action Plan
Opioid Policy Four-Point Strategic Plan
OWCP has implemented a four-point strategic plan to combat the opioid epidemic and reduce the potential for opioid misuse and addiction among injured federal workers.
Broad controls set up much-needed boundaries and markers. Because the opioid crisis is a complex problem demanding meticulous attention to a host of different factors, broad controls alone are insufficient. Specific measures that precisely target interrelated variables are necessary. Given its role in processing claims for injured federal workers, OWCP can draw from a broad pool of patient data to identify risk factors and shared characteristics. Opioid duration and dose level, along with specific medical conditions and patient characteristics, will be carefully analyzed. That analysis will equip OWCP with the necessary tools to design and implement impactful controls. This will ultimately lead to successful, long-term solutions for both the individual and the community.
Injured federal workers currently receiving an opioid prescription have unique medical needs based on their injuries and medical histories. Determining the appropriate treatment that successfully manages a patient's pain level and addresses any potential opioid use disorder requires a personalized, human touch. OWCP will work in close collaboration with both the individual and the medical provider to encourage a tailored treatment approach. Such an approach will include exploring other pain treatment methods with the goal of eliminating or reducing the use of opioids. Where misuse of opioids or an opioid disorder is present, removing any barriers to treatment will be the primary focus.
General communications through standard media outlets such as the OWCP website, press releases, and bulletins have and will continue to be utilized. However, because OWCP can communicate directly with every injured federal worker receiving opioids and every provider prescribing opioids to its claimant population, the primary focus will be on targeted communications. These targeted communications are often very specific and individualized. The concern generated by the use of opioids in connection with the existing medical condition is identified, the presence of any potential risk factors discussed, and the historical prescribing patterns, if necessary, are provided. Required actions or possible treatment solutions will also be communicated.
Fraud detection efforts, driven by data analytics and a collaborative team approach with the Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) (and our agency partners' OIG) are an ongoing, high priority for OWCP. A dedicated team, within the OWCP's Program Integrity Unit, has been tasked with uncovering fraud and quickly setting up controls to prevent any further loss or harm. Our primary focus is on potential provider fraud. Problematic prescriptions involving high volume and/or high dose levels and anomalous billing patterns will be carefully examined.
President Donald J. Trump has mobilized his entire Administration to address the opioid crisis. Central to the President's Opioid Initiative is reducing demand and preventing over-prescribing through education and awareness.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, in full support of the President's Initiative, wants every injured federal worker to know the facts about opioid abuse, prevention, and treatment.
Prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl, among others, are powerful medications that have pain-reducing benefits but also may lead to misuse, addiction, overdose, and even death. Various factors will increase an individual's risk of misuse, addiction or overdose while taking opioids. These risk factors include:
Opioid Dose, Duration, and Formulations
Healthcare Conditions and Individual Characteristics
Individuals with certain healthcare conditions or characteristics may be more sensitive to opioid effects, which may also lead to overdose. These conditions and characteristics include:
Some individuals with certain healthcare conditions or characteristics are at higher risk of misuse, which may lead to overdose. These include:
As opioids have highly-addictive properties, they pose a substantial risk of addiction and overuse.
Concomitant Use of Other Medications or Other Agents
Unless advised by your health care provider, certain medications should be avoided when taking opioids due to increased risk of severe drowsiness, decreased awareness, breathing problems, coma, or death. These medications include:
Opioids may interact with other medications that may increase your risk of overdose, arrhythmias, or seizures. It is best to check with your healthcare provider and pharmacist and read information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before taking other medications in conjunction with opioids.
If you have been taking opioids and feel you need help, talk to your doctor. OWCP stands ready to assist its injured federal workers with coordination and authorization of any necessary treatment to reduce the harms and risks of opioids. You may also wish to visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) website for additional information regarding treatment, or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
If you have been taking opioids and feel you need help, contact the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.