Florida Blue, the leading health insurer in Florida, announced Tuesday that beginning Jan. 1 most of its health-care policies will no longer pay for OxyContin.
Instead, Xtampza ER, a new oxycodone formula developed specifically to help prevent abuse of the drug, will be covered. It is approved by the Federal Drug Administration to manage severe pain that requires long-term opioid treatment.
The Center for Disease Control declared a national opioid epidemic earlier this year.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed an executive order proclaiming the opioid epidemic a statewide emergency.
Toxicology results determined that opioids were present at the time of death in 4,515 Floridians last year, according to the 2016 interim report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.
Experts believe many people developed opioid addictions from using prescription drugs and later began using heroin, which is typically cheaper and easier to obtain.
The street drug has become increasingly dangerous with the recent influx of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that officials say is commonly mixed with heroin.
Jacksonville, like many cities across the country, has witnessed a spike in opiate overdoses.
In response, the City Council set aside $1.5 million to start an experimental addiction treatment program.
City attorneys also are looking to hire a law firm to file a legal complaint against several drug makers and distributors that would allege they downplayed the addiction risks of their prescription opioids.
Many OxyContin abusers tamper with the pills by crushing them, creating a faster acting powder that can be snorted or injected, said Scott McClelland, vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy at Florida Blue.
“This type of consumption can quickly lead to addiction and overdose,” he said.
Medicare Advantage products are excluded from the policy change, the company said.
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