Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > Insurer Moves to Implement Prescribing Limits for Painkillers

Insurer Moves to Implement Prescribing Limits for Painkillers

Posted 12 June 2012 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC 

Federal regulators might soon have company in their long-running battle to reduce the misuse and abuse of painkillers through the adoption of restrictive programs, including Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS).

The Washington Post reports Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Massachusetts, the state's largest insurer, is planning to roll out a new plan on 1 July 2012 to limit the supply of painkillers available to patients to just thirty days unless exigent criteria are met.

Under the plan, physicians working with BCBS would no longer be allowed to prescribe painkillers for "minor" problems such as a sprained ankle for longer than 60 days. Patients known to experience chronic pain from cancer or terminal illness will still be able to obtain regular supplies of the drug, reported The Post.

The program would be the first in the nation from an insurer, and would be structured in such a way as to reduce the risk of abuse and addiction. Patients would receive 15-day increments of the painkiller, with a physician being required to evaluate the patient in person after 30 days to discuss the risks of abuse with the patient, said John Fallon, chief physician executive at BCBS.

Read more:

Washington Post - Insurer's 30-day prescription limit aims to cut painkiller abuse

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