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Cummins, Inc. Implements Major Changes to Help with Prescription Painkiller Problems in the Workplace

I recently wrote about the prescription painkiller problem in Indiana – specifically about why the situation is so much more severe than in most other states and the outrageous increase in babies born addicted (a 3900 percent increase from 2000 to 2010). But every day another news item comes through and makes me realize that the drug problem in Indiana is even worse than I thought the day before.  Now it’s being reported that 80 percent of Indiana businesses say that prescription drug addiction is a problem in their business. One company, Cummins, Inc., is doing more than most to get the situation under control.

Cummins, Inc. is an American Fortune 500 corporation that services, designs, manufactures, and distributes engines, filtration, power generation products, and similar equipment. Cummins is a big company – it employs 55,000 people, and sells in 190 countries and territories through its 600 company-owned and independent distributors and about 10 times that number of dealers. It’s headquartered in Indiana.

Here’s what the company is doing to help with the internal drug problem:

  • Added opioids to the list of drugs tests on employees. Even the companies that test employees for drugs don’t usually test for prescription drugs.  And in some areas, prescription drugs are the major problem.
  • Anyone who tests positive is moved onto a job that is safe for them to do when they’re under the influence of those drugs.
  • When it’s needed, those who test positive will be sent to treatment.
  • Supervisors are being taught how to recognize employees who are having problems with the effects of addictive painkillers.
  • Plant managers are being taught to recognize and prioritize potentially dangerous immediate drug situations and to stabilize to stabilize those workers, including those who have overdosed.
  • The company is opening a health center at the corporate headquarters where employees will have access to a full-time pharmacist as well as alternative pain treatments such as massage, acupuncture and physical therapy.
  • The company also has a pharmacy benefits manager who will now be keeping track of which employees are using opioids and how many prescriptions they’re getting how often. If the benefits manager becomes aware of abuse, they won’t talk to the company about it, but they will inform the employee’s own doctor and pharmacist.

Cummins is out to help. They know that the majority of workers who will test positive for painkillers got them from their doctor for pain, and aren’t abusing them.

I don’t know how severe the drug problem is with Cummins but whatever it is, they’re making headway. From 2013 to 2015, the number of opioids prescribed under the company’s health plan decreased by 4 percent.

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