Kaiser Health News (from Nashville Public Radio), September 13, 2018
Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio

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The largest insurer in Tennessee has announced it will no longer cover prescriptions for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever. It’s the latest insurance company to turn against OxyContin, whose maker, Purdue Pharma, faces dozens of lawsuits related to its high-pressure sales tactics around the country and contribution to the opioid crisis. Last fall, Cigna and Florida Blue both dropped coverage of the drug.

Top officials at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee say newer abuse-deterrent opioids work better, and starting in January, the insurer covering 3.4 million Tennesseans will pay for those opioids made by other pharmaceutical companies instead.

“We felt it was time to move to those products and remove Oxycontin from the formulary, which does still continue to have a higher street value,” said Natalie Tate, the insurer’s vice president of pharmacy. [...]

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