Blue Cross Blue Shield adopts new opioid standard — 3 things to know

Written by Shayna Korol | March 29, 2018 | Print  |

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association National Council of Physician and Pharmacist Executives adopted a standard that opioids should not be prescribed as first or second lines of pain therapy in most situations.

Here are three things to know.

1. The NCPE, a committee of medical officers and pharmacy experts from BCBS companies nationwide, unanimously supported the standard, which aligns with recent CDC guidelines. It is intended to reduce unnecessary harm for 106 million members served by BCBS companies.

"Due to the lack of evidence combined with significant potential for harm, we believe professional standards require that BCBS members are given alternative options to opioids in most clinical situations," said Dr. Trent Haywood, MD, CMO for BCBSA. "We will work with medical professionals to ensure BCBS members are routinely provided alternatives to opioids through a mutual decision made inside the doctor’s office."

2. According to a BCBSA study, 21 percent of commercially insured BCBSA members filled at least one opioid prescription in 2015. The number of members with an opioid use disorder diagnosis spiked 493 percent over a seven-year study period.

3. According to Dr. Haywood, BCBS companies represent one-third of Americans. BCBS companies cover non-opioid pain treatments, as well as medication-assisted treatments, and BCBS companies are providing training for physicians and pharmacists, customized coaching services for people with chronic pain and support for families in addiction recovery.

Here is more information on how BCBS companies are fighting the opioid epidemic.

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