CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/WYMT) - Insurance giant Cigna announced they will no longer cover prescriptions for OxyContin starting Jan. 1, 2018. It is an effort to curb drug abuse, although they are replacing it with a drug that is equally addictive.
It is reported that drug overdoses are killing more Americans than guns or car crashes.
“Any step is a good step, the way I feel,” said Lindsay Acree, an assistant professor in the University of Charleston’s pharmacy program. “This is not going to reduce the risk of addiction with this medication. It’s still just as addictive," Acree said.
Insurance giant Cigna said at the beginning of January, they will not cover most OxyContin prescriptions in its group plans. They are replacing it with Xtempza ER, a drug that has the same effect.
"It's just a different formulation so it's more difficult to tamper with,” Acree said.
"Any of those formulations are definitely a step in the right direction for the reduction in the abuse of the substance,” explained Mike Goff with the West Virginia Board of Pharmacists.
Xtempza ER contains abuse deterrents. The pills are supposed to be harder to smash up, harder to break apart and more difficult to abuse.
“It's harder to abuse the products but the drugs themselves can still be taken orally,” Goff said.
In a study conducted by it's manufacturer, Xtempza ER was found to be harder to abuse than OxyContin.
Cigna reportedly insures more than 15 million people worldwide, and said special accommodations will be made in specific circumstances for limited prescriptions of OxyContin.