Letters to the Editor

Florida Blue vs. OxyContin

I am writing in-response to your Nov. 6 article regarding Florida Blue’s decision to replace OxyContin on its formulary.

As a member of the Florida House of Representatives who has been focused on Florida’s opioid crisis for some time, I applaud Florida Blue’s efforts to reduce the potential for abuse among its members. That said, I find the justification of its decision to no longer cover OxyContin curious and see it to be more a business decision based on price as well as a quiet recognition in being part of the cause of the current epidemic we now face.

Abuse-deterrent formulation opioids date back to 2013 when OxyContin received an “abuse-deterrent” labeling. Since then there has been little success getting health care providers to agree to switch over so most abuse-deterrent opioids were not covered by health plans. Some health plans required patients to first be prescribed opioids without abuse-deterrent features before they could be prescribed an abuse-deterrent opioid. This practice coupled with generous dispensing practices by doctors helped fill Florida’s medicine cabinets.

Another important point that didn’t seem to resonate from this article is that while abuse-deterrent formulation opioids are difficult to crush or dissolve, they are no less addictive. Due to the overprescribing of opioids for acute pain, the Florida Legislature has worked to enact meaningful changes in the way that opioids are prescribed and dispensed. The goal of the legislation is to prevent the unnecessary long-term exposure of patients to opioid therapy.

There is a great deal of “looking in the mirror” happening by a diverse set of stakeholders who played a role in where we are now. All change begins with acceptance of reality. Florida Blue announcing its change in policy, while welcomed, seemed a bit more like finger-pointing toward others instead of accepting its role in the opioid epidemic.

State Rep. Nick Duran (D)

Florida House District 112,