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Oxycontin capsules(Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

OxyContin has turn out to be one of the vital recognizable model names within the nation’s lethal opioid epidemic. Starting Jan. 1, the state’s largest well being insurer will stop protection of the drug in favor of a painkiller much less straightforward to abuse.

Florida Blue’s alternate, Xtampza ER, is much like OxyContin in that it’s an extended-release, oxycodone-based product. 

The mbadive distinction, the corporate mentioned Tuesday, is that Xtampza is extra chemically suited to forestall customers from crushing, snorting or injecting it — all technique of getting a faster, and doubtlessly extra deadly, excessive.

Florida Blue’s new coverage won’t apply to generic oxycodone, which is offered as an immediate-release drug at decrease doses and is much less more likely to be so abused, mentioned Scott McClelland, the corporate’s vp of business and specialty pharmacy.

“Imagine if you could take an 80-milligram extended-release (OxyContin) tablet and crush it and inject it and get it all at once, as opposed to a five-milligram oxycodone tablet,” McClelland mentioned. “So, that’s the big reason there’s such huge concerns about these extended-release formulations. It’s a really big dose.”

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The OxyContin ban applies to all Florida Blue particular person and group plans. Medicare Advantage plans are excluded.

Xtampza ER is manufactured by Canton, Mbadachussets-based Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc. Though it touts the drug’s “abuse-deterrent technology” it doesn’t badure that the drug can’t be abused.

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The firm additionally notes: “Although Xtampza ER is formulated to make manipulation more difficult, it cannot entirely prevent abuse; abuse of Xtampza ER by injection and via the oral and nasal routes is still possible.”

The firm’s determination to drop OxyContin follows a federal declaration earlier this yr that the nation is within the grips of an opioid overdose epidemic. Shortly thereafter, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed an govt order declaring the opioid epidemic a statewide public well being emergency.

Opioids had been the direct trigger of two,664 Florida overdose deaths in 2016 and confirmed up within the toxicology studies of four,515 Floridians that yr, in response to an interim report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.

Fentanyl, morphine, and heroin had been the highest three causes of deadly opioid overdoses. Oxycodone was fourth.

Florida Blue usually pays for 1.5 million opioid prescriptions yearly, in response to the corporate. About eight % of that enterprise is for prescriptions lasting longer than 30 days, a bunch at a better danger for dependancy and overdose.

Florida Blue already has amount limits on long- and short-acting painkillers. It has additionally required prior-approval for prescriptions of extended-release opioid painkillers, comparable to OxyContin and fentanyl.

The coverage was up to date Oct. 1 to incorporate prior approval for short-acting painkillers wanted for greater than seven days, McClelland mentioned.

“We want to prevent as much abuse and addiction and deaths related to these overdoses as possible,” he mentioned. “We’re just trying to take an active role and prevent these deaths that are occurring on a daily basis.”

Follow this reporter on Twitter: @FrankGluck

 

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