Florida’s largest health insurer says it will no longer cover OxyContin, the latest insurance company to stop covering the opioid amid a national epidemic of dependence on the powerful, but addictive, painkilling drugs.
David Royse | Ledetree
The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that Florida Blue will stop covering OxyContin beginning Jan. 1, and instead will cover Xtampza ER. Unlike OxyContin, that drug isn’t crushable, and hopefully will be less likely to be injected or snorted.
“We think it’s time for more people, including physicians in our community, the nurses, even the families to take a more proactive approach in trying to manage this epidemic,” Scott McClelland, Florida Blue’s vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy, told the Herald.
The decision by Florida Blue follows an announcement last month by Cigna that it would stop covering OxyContin in most plans, also in favor of Xtampza ER.
Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, says it’s drug also has an abuse-deterring design, and has argued that decisions by insurers not to cover the drug limit doctors’ options for treating pain.
There were more than 30,000 opioid-related last year, with more than half linked to prescription drugs.
Most big insurance plans cover highly addictive opioids – and have come under criticism for not doing enough to reduce addiction to the drugs. Some companies, according to a recent New York Times – Pro Publica story, make it easier for some patients to get the more addictive drugs, because they are often cheaper than less addictive drugs.