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Intersection: Florida Blue Will No Longer Cover Oxycontin

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Photo: Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner. Goodfellow Air Force Base.

Beginning next year, Florida Blue will no longer pay for OxyContin. Instead it will pay for Xtampza ER, a form of pain medication that can’t be crushed and abused.

The move by the state’s biggest health insurer is the latest twist in the opioid crisis that’s gripping the nation. But will this hurt chronic pain sufferers?

Abe Aboraya, 90.7’s Health Reporter, Jason Brodeur, a Republican representative in the Florida House, and Dr. Valerie Westhead, the Chief Medical Officer for Aspire Health Partners, joined Intersection to talk about the opioid epidemic and if Florida Blue’s plan will help it.

Dr. Westhead said using Xtampza ER is a good practice. “A safer formulation makes a lot more sense,” she said.

She also said that it is also the perfect time for physicians to educate their patients about safe use of the medication.  “It is a perfect opportunity for the prescribing physician to educate their patient about safe use of this medication.”

Aboraya said nearly 12 million people have chronic pain, but half the people who are abusing opioids are not getting them prescribed.

“They’re getting them from a friend, they’re getting them from a medicine cabinet,” he said. “How to keep this medication in a safe place so that others in the household don’t have access to it, and really reinforce that opioid medication is for specific needs?”

Brodeur said there is a house bill that is looking to regulate opioids by estabilishing standards of practice when prescribing opioids.

“What this bill is trying to address is that pathway of folks who have an acute issue they have a tooth ache they’re going in for some kind of pain management and fall down this pathway of addiction,” he said.

“We want to stop that before that gets rolling, and that’s a separate category of individual than a legitimate chronic pain patient.”

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