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Cigna Wants to Cut Opioid Overdoses, Will Focus on Hard-Hit Communities

Health insurer Cigna says it wants to cut opioid overdoses among its customers by 25 percent by 2021, in part by expanding a program that uses predictive analytics to identify patients most likely to overdose and spur doctors to act to get them into treatment before they do.

And the company said it will focus its efforts on some of the communities that have been hardest hit by opioid overdoses, places in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and in parts of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The health insurance company said in a statement this week that it will also work with local organizations to help make it easier for people addicted to opioid medications to get into drug treatment programs and pain management support and counseling programs. It also will work with local groups to try to make the overdose treatment drug naloxone more readily available.

“The continued increase in people suffering from overdoses is alarming, and immediate action is needed to help disrupt this trend,” said Doug Nemecek, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna. “We know we can’t do it alone and are collaborating with partners on local efforts to curb this preventable disease by improving care for people with chronic pain and substance use disorders.”

Cigna also is continuing to urge its doctors to prescribe opioids less, and to treat opioid use disorder as a chronic condition itself.

The insurer, which is in the process of trying to purchase pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, said earlier this year that it has already seen a 25 percent reduction in the prescription of opioids for its insured customers, but needs to do more.

“Behind every number, there are real people struggling along with families, employers and communities,” said David M. Cordani, Cigna President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our commitment to reduce drug overdoses by 25 percent is a commitment to each and every one of them, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to meet it.”

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