To address the worsening opioid epidemic in the United States and increase the access to health care services, insurance provider Aetna has decided to waive the co-pays for Narcan, a powerful opioid antidote, for its fully-insured commercial members, beginning January 2018. This initiative will help in removing the financial barriers to the lifesaving medication. For the management of acute pain and surgical pain, Aetna has also decided to reduce the supply of opioids to one week, to commercial pharmacies.
The active drug naloxone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1971 for reversing opioid overdose. Since 1985, the generic forms were introduced in the market and at present, it is available as an injectable and a nasal spray. The federal government and state-run agencies have taken various measures to expand the use of naloxone, but its rising cost is an impediment to its widespread use. “Aetna is committed to addressing the opioid crisis through prevention, intervention, and treatment,” said Harold L. Paz, executive vice president and chief medical officer of the health care company. He is hopeful that increasing the access to Narcan can provide evidence-based treatment to many people and prevent fatal consequences of drug overdose.
Members less likely to fill prescriptions with more copays
According to the research carried out by the insurance major, nearly 30 percent of its members did not use Narcan despite having prescription for the same, from January to June 2017. The research also revealed that the insured members were less likely to fill Narcan prescriptions if the copays soared. The data revealed a 76.7 percent rate of prescription abandonment for copay between $100.01-$150 compared to 46.1 percent for co-pay between $40.1 and $50. Realizing that cost is a significant impediment to obtaining the life-saving medication, by eliminating the copays, Aetna will strive to help people deal with their addiction until they are ready to pursue treatment, said Paz.
Aetna’s initiative of controlling the prescription filling to a week’s time in cases of acute and surgical pain is backed by the numbers shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, nearly 6 percent of the patients who received opioid prescription for a single day continued using them after a year whereas, nearly 13.5 percent people abused opioids who received prescription for eight or more days. The number escalated to almost 30 percent when patients were prescribed opioids for 30 days or more.
Other initiatives to combat opioid crisis
In March 2017, Aetna removed the preauthorization requirement for its members on the buprenorphine supply, facilitating easy access. Later in August, it donated 720 doses of Narcan to first responders in the Appalachia regions and Northern Kentucky. Additionally, the company also disclosed its five-year plans for combatting opioid addiction.
Road to recovery
Drug addiction is a menace that needs to be collectively fought at the society, community and national levels. Long-term abuse can have far-reaching consequences than one can imagine. It not only affects a person physically and mentally but also causes disturbances in personal and social relationships, productivity and performance. Therefore, one must not take it lightly and seek professional support to lead a drug-free life.
If your loved one is battling an addiction to any drug, Sovereign Health can help. We are a leading addiction treatment and mental health service provider in the United States, offering comprehensive and evidence-based drug addiction treatment programs tailor-made to suit the needs of patients. Our state-of-the-art drug addiction treatment centers foster recovery in a tranquil and secure environment. For more information on our intervention plans, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our counselors.