June 21, 2018

Cigna re-lowers its opioid-overdose goal

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Cigna headquarters in Bloomfield.
HBJ FILE PHOTO
Cigna CEO David M. Cordani

In a further aim to curb the nation's opioid epidemic, Bloomfield health insurer Cigna is building on previous gains and aiming for another 25 percent reduction in opioid overdoses among its insured by 2021.

On Thursday, Cigna announced it's providing a community-based approach to improve healthcare access and resources to curtail chronic pain and addition.

The insurer is collaborating with doctors, pharmacists, health staffers and patients to further curb opioid misuse over the next three years and beyond. Cigna has also expanded its program that identifies patients who are more likely to suffer from opioid addiction.

Cigna is first addressing its "sizable" commercial markets by expanding its support of local organizations working to reduce prescription and illicit opioid overdoses in Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Almost 64,000 people died in 2016 of drug overdoses in the U.S. and two-thirds of those deaths resulted from opioid abuse, Cigna said. Meantime, opioid overdoses contributed to one in five of all deaths in 2016 for adults 25 and older.

The same year, the U.S. spent more than $2.6 billion treating addictions to all drugs, nearly 10 times the $300 million spent in 2012, Cigna said.

"Behind every number, there are real people struggling along with families, employers and communities," Cigna CEO David M. Cordani said. "Our commitment to reduce drug overdoses by 25 percent is a commitment to each and every one of them, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to meet it."

In March, Cigna said it collaborated with more than 1.1 million clinicians to achieve a 25 percent reduction in opioid use among its policyholders since 2016, a year ahead of its goal.

Cigna last month also rolled out an online marketing campaign to combat the opioid epidemic.

The new campaign, featuring nationally known celebrities, is aimed at "pain plan" management to encourage discussions surrounding safe opioid use and other pain management options. Under the campaign, Cigna also developed an online tool on its "Help with Pain" website, allowing people to determine whether a prescription is an opioid or not.

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