Home Featured News Florida’s Largest Insurance Company To Cease OxyContin Coverage

Florida’s Largest Insurance Company To Cease OxyContin Coverage

Florida’s Largest Insurance Company To Cease OxyContin Coverage

Beginning January 1, 2018, Florida’s largest health insurer, Florida Blue, will no longer cover the prescription drug OxyContin. Florida Blue will instead be turning to another extended-release, oxycodone-based painkiller known as Xtampza ER.

According to USA Today, Xtampza ER differs from OxyContin because it’s more difficult to crush down for injection. OxyContin is one of the biggest names in the U.S. opioid epidemic. The insurer hopes this change of pace will curb substance abuse in the state of Florida.

The new policy of Florida Blue doesn’t apply to oxycodone. Oxycodone is less likely to be abused because it’s sold with a lower dose than OxyContin.

“Imagine if you could take an 80-milligram extended-release (OxyContin) tablet and crush it and inject it and get it all at once, as opposed to a five-milligram oxycodone tablet,” said Scott McClelland, Florida Blue’s vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy. “So, that’s the big reason there’s such huge concerns about these extended-release formulations. It’s a really big dose.”

Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc, the manufacturer of Xtampza ER, notes that the drug can still be abused despite its advanced technology to deter crushing and injection. Injection of the drug through the nose and mouth are still possible, the company says.

Drugs which are based with opioids and semi-synthetic opioids such as oxycodone are also likely to cause addiction despite new anti-crushing technology. Four out of five people addicted to heroin report that their addiction began with misusing prescription painkillers.

Addiction is the result of the brain altering as the result of substance use. When a patient uses prescription opioids for an extended period of time to cope with an injury or chronic pain, the brain’s limbic system, cerebral cortex, and brainstem are all affected.

A patient may be in control of their substance use at the beginning of the addiction process. However, over time, their behavior is no longer in their control.

In 2016, up to 2,664 Florida deaths were caused by overdose. Florida Blue pays for approximately 1.5 million opioid prescriptions annually although the insurance company requires prior approval for both extended-release opioid painkillers and short-acting painkillers.

Florida Blue’s policy change, which was updated on October 1, will apply to all Florida Blue group and individual plans. However, Medicare Advantage plans will still cover OxyContin.