JUPITER, Fla., Dec. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With opioids commonly used for pain management for workplace injuries, employers now face a newcomer in the prescription drug market that has led to nationwide fatalities.
The synthetic opioid called U-47700, or "pink", is approximately seven to eight times stronger than heroin or morphine, resulting in likelihood of addiction, abuse or death.
Suzanne Smolkin, vice president, clinical operations, Behavioral Health for HMC HealthWorks, explained the opioid drug is less expensive yet stronger than heroin.
"Opioid use, including 'pink', creates significant biochemical changes in the brain and the addiction is difficult to overcome," said Smolkin. "With the drug more potent than heroin and morphine, and available online for less than $10 in some cases, individuals seeking inexpensive and immediate relief to chronic pain open a door to potential abuse or worse."
The drug can be pressed into pill format and marketed as a wide variety of prescription opioids. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has temporarily banned the drug, linking it to 88 deaths in the U.S. in the last year. As healthcare providers write more than 250 million prescriptions for painkillers each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid abuse in the workplace continues to rise. Employers need to help educate employees about the dangers of opioid use, in particular, injured employees.
"The goal of prescription medications is to create favorable treatment outcomes and quality of life," explained Dr. Janis DiMonaco, president and founder, HMC HealthWorks. "Workplace-related injuries often necessitate prescription painkillers. This presents a unique challenge for employers. They need to ensure their partnerships with benefit providers give them concrete action steps on how to deal with this nationwide and sometimes lethal epidemic."
Employees who are at risk also include those individuals with mental illness, long-term opioid use, or who work with multiple physicians.
"Opioid medications create serious risks at work," Dr. DiMonaco added. "Employees should know they can discuss their concerns about painkillers confidentially."
Outside of promoting drug-free workplace initiatives, employers can also implement Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to offer employees in need to appropriate interventions and treatment, among other benefits. As employers seek to control costs, a sound benefit plan can support them with federal regulation compliance and offer access to ethical treatment for opioid abuse.
About HMC HealthWorks
HMC HealthWorks, the premier national provider of population healthcare management programs, offers plan sponsors value-added programs including Integrated Clinical Solutions, Chronic Care Management, Behavioral Health Solutions, Wellness/Lifestyle Coaching, and Care Coordination.
For more information, please contact:
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/workplace-epidemic-of-opioid-abuse-increases---employer-call-to-action-needed-300373805.html
SOURCE HMC HealthWorks