Call 413.540.1234 to
schedule an appointment
CONCERN/EAP: 413.534.2625
Billing questions? Call: 413.540.1212
CRISIS: 413.733.6661

Drug Addiction
Resources
Basic InformationLatest News
Vets Who Get Opioids From VA, Medicare at Higher Overdose RiskAHA News: Opioid Crisis Brings Concerns About Heart DangersAnother Side Effect of the Opioid Crisis: Heart InfectionsU.S. Deaths From Suicide, Substance Abuse Reach Record HighOpioid Overdose Deaths Quadruple, Centered in 8 StatesKratom-Related Poisonings Are Soaring, Study FindsFDA Fell Short in Preventing Fentanyl Abuse Crisis, Report ClaimsMore Car Crashes Tied to Drivers High on OpioidsInsurers Making It Harder to Treat Opioid Addiction: StudyMeth Abuse Driving Big Spike in Syphilis CasesPoor Whites Bear the Brunt of U.S. Opioid Crisis, Studies FindOpioid OD Deaths Are Saving Lives Through TransplantationMaking OxyContin 'Tamper Proof' Helped Spread Hepatitis CAHA: Marijuana, Cocaine May Play Role in Young Americans' Rising Stroke RateAnother Opioid Scourge: Infection-Related StrokesOpioid Danger to Newborns Varies By RegionAs More Smoke Pot, Are Their Jobs at Risk?Big Pharma's Marketing to Docs Helped Trigger Opioid Crisis: StudyMore Americans Mixing Opioids With SedativesOpioids Now More Deadly for Americans Than Traffic AccidentsFatal Drug ODs Soaring Among Middle-Aged Women: CDCPostpartum Opioid Rx May Lead to Persistent Use: StudyOpioid Overdose Deaths Triple Among Teens, KidsMore Evidence That Abuse of Xanax, Valium Is on the RiseCould Pot Harm Men's Sperm?Opioids May Help Chronic Pain, But Not MuchFentanyl Now the No. 1 Opioid OD KillerNew Approach to Opioid Crisis: Supervised Heroin Injection Programs?Opioids Plus Other Drugs a Deadly Mix for Heavy UsersEven Wisdom Tooth Removal May Spur Opioid AddictionMeth, Opioid Use in Pregnancy on the RiseOpioids Increasingly Tied to Deaths of Pregnant WomenMany Drugstores Won't Dispense Opioid Antidote as RequiredAHA: Meth Use Producing Younger, Harder-to-Treat Heart Failure PatientsOver 2 Million Americans Have Hepatitis C; Opioids Help Drive SpreadMany Young Drug Abusers Not Tested for Hepatitis C, Study FindsCoffee Shop Workers on Front Lines of Opioid CrisisReports Warn of Growing Opioid Crisis Among Seniors'No Documented Reason' for 1 in 3 Outpatient Opioid Rxs: StudyStates Struggle With Onslaught of Opioid OD DeathsU.S. Deaths From Suicide, Drugs Surpass DiabetesDoctors Write Fewer Opioid Scripts After Learning of Overdose DeathNumber of Opioid-Addicted Women Giving Birth QuadruplesAs Opioid Epidemic Rages, Painkiller Prescriptions Don't DropFDA Warns of Deaths Tied to Tainted Synthetic PotEven Once-a-Week Pot Smokers Have More Cough, PhlegmDeath Certificate Data May Miss Many Opioid ODs: StudyKids Are Overdosing on Med Meant to Fight Opioid AddictionHave Insurers Played a Role in Opioid Crisis?If Opioid Addicts Survive OD, Other Hazards Lie Ahead: Study
Links

Have Insurers Played a Role in Opioid Crisis?

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Jun 22nd 2018

new article illustration

FRIDAY, June 22, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Health insurers may have helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic by not encouraging use of less addictive pain medications, a new study contends.

In 2016, more than 2.1 million Americans had an opioid addiction. And more than 42,000 died from opioid overdoses, government data show.

"Our findings suggest that both public and private insurers, at least unwittingly, have contributed importantly to the epidemic," said study senior author Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Opioid-based painkillers like oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) are just one tool in the pain management tool box, said Alexander, co-director of Hopkins' Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness.

"Unfortunately, many of the plans that we examined didn't have well-developed policies in place to limit their overuse," he said in a university news release.

Alexander's team examined Medicare, Medicaid and large private insurers' 2017 coverage policies for drugs to treat chronic lower-back pain. Chronic back pain is frequently linked to overuse of prescription opioids.

The analysis included 30 prescription opioids and 32 non-opioid medications. Non-opioids included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants and pain relievers applied to the skin.

The researchers concluded that the insurers' drug coverage policies should have done more to get patients to use safer and more effective treatments than prescription opioids.

Insurers can more strictly limit painkiller quantities and require use of less risky drugs before proceeding to powerful narcotics, the researchers said. They can also require the prescriber to obtain authorization from the insurer before ordering opioids for non-cancer pain, the study authors added.

The study was published June 22 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Efforts by HealthDay to get a comment from the trade association America's Health Insurance Plans were unsuccessful.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about prescription opioids.