- REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Cigna just made a move that could help curb opioid misuse.
Starting in 2018, the health insurer will no longer cover OxyContin, the branded version of the painkiller oxycodone. Cigna will still cover oxycodone alternatives to OxyContin.
The move is intended to cut back on the number of opioid prescriptions the insurer provides. In 2016, Cigna committed to lowering opioid use among its customers by 25% over the next three years.
“Our focus is on helping customers get the most value from their medications – this means obtaining effective pain relief while also guarding against opioid misuse,” Cigna’s chief pharmacy officer Jon Maesner said in a news release.
More than 183,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioid painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and morphine over the last 15 years. In August, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” though he has yet to formally designate it as such.
“We believe that patients should have access to FDA-approved products with abuse deterrent properties,” Purdue Pharma, which makes the branded version of OxyContin said in a statement emailed to Business Insider. “Unfortunately, Cigna’s decision limits the tools prescribers can use to help address the opioid crisis as both products are formulated with properties designed to deter abuse.”