A top health insurance company is joining the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Cigna says it won't cover prescriptions for the brand OxyContin for most customers starting next year — it'll be taken off group preferred commercial drug lists.
In 2016, Cigna laid out a three-year plan to cut down on opioid use among its customers by a quarter. It seems this move is an effort to help meet that goal.
There are a few caveats to this announcement: Cigna will still cover at least one oxycodone alternative, and people who use OxyContin for hospice or cancer care will have their prescriptions covered. The company also says it'll consider approving OxyContin if a customer's doctor deems it medically necessary.
Cigna is notifying patients with current OxyContin prescriptions and their doctors about the future change.
"While drug companies don't control prescriptions, they can help influence patient and doctor conversations by educating people about their medications. The insights we obtain from the metrics in the new value-based contract will help us continue to evolve our opioid management strategies to assist our customers and their doctors," Jon Maesner, Cigna's chief pharmacy officer, said.
The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 33,000 people were killed by opioid overdoses in 2015, and almost half of those overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.