Cigna Shows Responsibility to Reduce Opioid Abuse by Dropping OxyContin Prescriptions


Published Date : Oct 06, 2017

Cigna has made it clear that the insurance giant will discontinue covering most OxyContin medications in its group plans starting January 1, 2018 for reducing opioid usage in the middle of a nationwide abuse epidemic. In 2016, the company had aimed at decreasing the opioid usage of its customers by a 25.0% in the following three years. For Xtampza ER, it has signed a value-based contract with Collegium and been asking opioid producers to give support to efforts taken for reducing opioid usage.

Cigna’s decision, however, has drawn some disagreement from big names such as OxyContin maker, Purdue Pharma, Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness director, Dr. Caleb Alexander, and University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing co-director, Dr. Walid Gellad.

Targeting Prescriptions Not Enough, Increase Access to Non-opioid Treatment, says Gellad

Purdue Pharma has said that Cigna’s decision restricts tools that prescribers could use to tackle the opioid crisis as both OxyContin and Xtampza ER have been formulated with abuse-deterrent properties. It further added that the decision seems to be more about pharmaceutical rebates. Alexander has said that insurers have been looking to hit the sweet spot between finding the right spot clinically and doing the right thing for their business.

Cigna has said in a statement that Collegium will be financially responsible if a specific threshold is exceeded by Xtampza ER’s average daily dosage strengths prescribed for Cigna customers. In case of the threshold being exceeded, Collegium will be reducing the cost of the medication for Cigna’s several benefit plans.