One of Cosmo Insurance Agency's carrier has made a big move in the news. Insurance giant, Cigna, announced that it will no longer cover OxyContin in its group plans starting in January 2018. OxyContin is a brand name for an extended-release version of oxycodone, a commonly prescribed opioid painkiller. The removal of OxyContin as an option is caused by the opioid epidemic that has spread throughout the United States.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 90 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, including legally prescribed drugs like oxycodone as well as illicit drugs like heroin. Since 1999, the number of opioid overdose deaths has quadrupled, as has the number of opioid prescriptions.
"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 Chief Pharmacy Officer Jon Maesner said in a statement.
OxyContin won't be an option for Cigna customers unless a doctor deems it "medically necessary".
Last year, Cigna set a goal of reducing its customers’ opioid use by 25% within the next three years. In lieu of OxyContin, Cigna said Wednesday, it is “asking opioid manufacturers to align with efforts to reduce opioid use and has signed a value-based contract with Collegium Pharmaceutical for the drug Xtampza ER, an oxycodone equivalent with abuse-deterrent properties.”
Dr. Walid Gellad, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing claimed, "“If you really want to address the opioid epidemic, it’s about about increasing access to non-opioid treament for chronic pain patients.”