Thursday, June 16, 2016

Health News: Opioid Damage Control

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Opioid Damage Control


Opioids are still a major news topic as the rate of addiction rises. In2010, Tufts Health Care Institute Program on Opioid Risk Management meeting was convened among both private and public insurance representatives. Although those in attendance agreed that measures should be taken, the fight continues. On May 19, CNN Health News published a report on the measures insurance companies are taking to stem the tide.

The company Cigna will now implement a new measure to "flag" customers who are at high risk of addiction and notify their doctors. If the doctor is sure that the patient needs opioids, Cigna can limit their options of both prescription pickup locations and doctors who can prescribe the medication. However, this method is not foolproof, as the patient could pick up opioids elsewhere, though Cigna would not cover the cost. Cigna also plans to make "medication-assisted therapy" available, so that therapy is combined with addiction treatment medicine.

According to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, it is too little, too late, as opioid prescriptions first jumped in 1996. Kolodny says that even with the measures, insurance companies are only tracking those who obtain medication through the insurance company, leaving no records of those who get the medication by paying cash.

A recent study 
suggests that prescribing doctors should be the focus, not the patients. In the US, 24 states began drug monitoring programs. When the doctors were being watched, there was a 30 per cent drop in Schedule II opioid prescriptions. However, more should be done. The authors of the study stated, "American clinicians are writing enough prescriptions to medicate every US adult for a month."

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