Independence Blue Cross tackling opioid crisis by changing prescribing guidelines

"Since 2014, we have noticed a 45% reduction in opioid users."

Hadas Kuznits
July 13, 2018 - 6:51 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- New guidelines for prescribing painkillers to certain patients could be helping to decrease overdoses related to the country's opioid epidemic.  

Virginia Calega with Independence Blue Cross says since 2014, the insurer has reevaluated how their doctors prescribe painkillers to their patients, and in 2017, they restricted first time low-dose opioid prescriptions to just a 5-day supply limit.

"We're seeing a 45% reduction in opioid utilizers," Calega said, "and a 35% reduction in opioid scripts."

She says this information, which they got through their claims data, indicates the changes may be working.

"Independence has had a real focus on managing first-time opioid prescriptions," Calega said. "The reason the policy was put in place was because we are in the midst in the United States of an opioid crisis."

And just this month they launched a new destigmatization program called, "Someone You Know."

"Because we need to talk about this," Calega said.