(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.--10/10/17) A major health insurance company, Cigna, is becoming the latest to take measures to combat the staggering opioid addiction numbers and deaths.
Oxycontin is the branded version of the painkiller Oxycodone, which is often abused and misused and has caused addiction in many.
Effective January 1st 2018 Cigna says it will no longer cover most Oxycontin prescriptions.
"If the product isn’t available on the streets then you can’t have the issue or the issue is going to decline," explains Erica Mahn, Director of Community Pharmacy at ALPS Pharmacy.
And once the coverage stops, it will cost cigna’s customers over $1,000 for one-hundred pills.
"We can try and encourage the doctors to make different changes and things, but honestly the insurance company is what we have to follow."
Mahn says the good news is there are alternatives.
"If we can’t dispense it and it’s not a covered product the doctor is not going to write for it so that would curb the issue."
Mahn says people who use Oxycontin for hospice or cancer care will still have their prescriptions covered.
"It’s really hard to say to a patient sorry you’ve used this for ten years and you’re in a pain controlled state, but now we have to change. That’s really hard but at the same time this might open they eyes for some prescribers' to write for other medications that might just work as well."
Each year 15,000 people die from painkiller overdoses.
Experts say more than half of those deaths were linked to prescription opioids such as Oxycotin.
Eric Moffitt Is the Facing Addiction Team Captain. He tells FOX5 ,"It has the potential to be like I said a game changer and as we watch it’s implementation and learn from it, where it fails, where it successes are, it can be altered, it can be evolving."
Moffitt is a recovering addict who took that path after abusing Oxycotin for more than ten years.
"Everything I have achieved today allows me to work for other people’s benefit, allows me to advocate for people out there still using, still out there in danger."
Moffitt is now leading others to recovery and hopes other insurances will mimic Cigna's approach.
"It’s really encouraging because they call on physicians, pharmaceutical companies that manufacturer to be help accountable for anything that falls outside of an ethical moderation of the medication directed by the physicians."