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Florida Blue Will No Longer Cover OxyContin In Effort To Prevent Opioid Abuse

Toby Talbot/Associated Press

Florida’s biggest health insurer announced Tuesday it is dropping coverage for OxyContin on Jan. 1, 2018 in an effort to help fight opioid abuse.

“People who abuse OxyContin typically try to tamper with the drug by crushing it, creating a higher and faster acting dose that can be snorted or injected. This type of consumption can quickly lead to addiction and overdose,” said Scott McClelland, Pharm.D., vice president of commercial and specialty pharmacy at Florida Blue in an email to WJCT News. 

As a replacement, Xtampza ER will be covered as the preferred long-acting oxycodone product. 

Florida Blue says Xtampza ER has a formula developed specifically to help prevent abuse of the drug. It is approved by the Federal Drug Administration to manage severe pain that requires long-term opioid treatment.

“After careful review of the scientific data supporting the abuse-deterrent features of Xtampza ER, we decided to replace OxyContin on the formulary and believe this will be an important step to addressing the opioid epidemic among the people we serve in the state,” said McClelland.

Florida Blue’s announcement follows President Donald Trump declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency last month.

Gov. Rick Scott has also signed an executive order proclaiming the opioid epidemic in Florida a statewide emergency.

The City of Jacksonville is also moving forward with plans to launch a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the city’s worsening opioid addiction crisis.

In making the announcement, Florida Blue cited toxicology results from the 2016 interim report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission that determined opioids were present at the time of death in 4,515 Floridians last year.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.