The largest health insurer in the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee said stop. It will no longer cover OxyContin, the addictive painkiller, starting with next year, instead it will switch its focus to covering two alternative pills which are more expensive but they are also deemed as less likely to lead to substance abuse, according to the Tennessean.
This shift represents a major hit to one of the drugs that started the trouble of the nationwide opioid epidemic. During the meetings with insurance brokers on Thursday, Blue Cross will disclose publicly the decision to let OxyContin go and the action will start on the 1st of January.
Natalie Tate, the Blue Cross vice president of pharmacy said that “we are not telling our physicians you cannot prescribe this. We are not telling our members you cannot receive this. We are just drawing a line that we will not continue to pay for this and we have alternatives we have now put into place”.
The proposed alternatives are represented by Morphabond and Xtampza, which are two opioids which will relieve pain and they will be the additions to the Blue Cross coverage as a preferred medication starting with next year. These drugs are more expensive than OxyContin but they are described as abuse-deterrent medication and Blue Cross will absorb the additional cost, according to what Tate had to say.
Customers will continue to share the price with the insurer regardless of what switch they make. Hospice patients and those who suffer from cancer will be exempt from the coverage charges, although their prescription would have to be approved by Blue Cross.
This insurer’s decision is a response to the national opioid epidemic which makes most people to misuse painkillers by getting the medication through friends or family and not by getting their own prescribed drugs, according to the available federal data.
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