Blue Cross of Tennessee to stop covering OxyContin in effort to fight opioid crisis

Blue Cross of Tennessee to stop covering OxyContin in effort to fight opioid crisis
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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee will stop covering OxyContin next year as part of a push to fight the opioid epidemic, it announced Thursday.

The move by the largest health insurance company in a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic marks a new step in fighting the crisis, and takes a drastic move against one of the most prominent drugs that helped fuel the epidemic.

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Blue Cross will instead offer coverage of two drugs it says are less likely to be abused, Xtampza and Morphabond, according to the Tennessean.

“We’re taking these additional steps because Tennessee deaths from prescription opioids have continued to rise, even as total prescriptions and dosage have decreased,” said Mary Danielson, a company spokeswoman. “As the state’s leading health insurer, BlueCross can make a meaningful difference in addressing the dangers of opioids. We believe it’s the right thing to do — for our members and for the state.”

She said the company worked with a panel of doctors to develop the actions.

Other steps include a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions for people using the drugs for the first time and additional authorization requirements for higher doses of opioids.

The company said its previous actions resulted in 19 million fewer pills for Blue Cross members and a 26 percent reduction in opioid prescription claims from 2015 to 2018.