Global health service company Cigna (NYSE:CI) is intensifying its
commitment to curtail the opioid epidemic by focusing new drug
prevention and treatment efforts in targeted U.S. communities. The
company will collaborate with employers, customers, prescribing
clinicians, pharmacists and community-based organizations to reduce the
number of opioid overdoses by 25 percent among its commercial
customers in these communities by December 2021.
Initially, Cigna will focus its local efforts in areas where a sizable
number of Cigna commercial customers reside and where there are higher
than average overdose rates, including communities in the states of
Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia and in the metropolitan
areas of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The goal
is to reduce prescription and illicit opioid overdoses in these areas,
and Cigna will advance initiatives that impact both Cigna customers and
the communities at large. To support this initiative, Cigna and the
Cigna Foundation will expand and accelerate the impact of
community-based organizations that are leading localized programs. Cigna
intends to learn from initial efforts during the three year time period
and expand to other communities over time.
Nationally, in 2016, nearly 64,000 people died of drug overdoses across
the United States and approximately two-thirds of these deaths were
linked to opioids1. Opioids were linked to one in 65 of all
U.S. deaths in 2016, and one in five deaths or 20% of all deaths for
adults ages 25-341. A new study based on U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows opioid-related deaths
between 2001 and 2016 increased 345% and resulted in approximately 1.68
million person-years of life lost in 2016 alone2.
“Behind every number, there are real people struggling along with
families, employers and communities,” said David M. Cordani, Cigna
President and Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
Employer-sponsored insurance covers nearly four in ten non-elderly
adults with opioid addiction, and the costs of treating opioid and other
drug addiction and overdose are significant, rising to more than $2.6
billion in 2016 from $0.3 billion 12 years earlier, a nearly nine-fold
increase3. Cigna partners with employers to make health plan
benefit design decisions including, integrating medical, pharmacy and
behavioral benefits and offering dedicated programs that help prevent
prescription drug misuse and help people struggling with addiction.
Cigna has expanded an existing program that uses predictive analytics to
identify customers who are most likely to suffer from an opioid overdose
and prompts interventions to help prevent the overdose from happening.
In addition to continuing national efforts to address the opioid
epidemic, the company will partner locally to develop immediate and
long-term approaches that make it easier for people to access treatment
for substance use disorders. Examples include medication-assisted
treatment (MAT), comprehensive pain management and enhanced support and
counseling, and making naloxone more readily available for treatment of
an overdose. The company will also continue to reinforce safe
prescribing guidelines, and will encourage a coordinated pharmacy care
approach that includes care providers and community pharmacists.
In March 2018, Cigna announced a 25
percent reduction in prescription opioid use among its commercial
customers achieved in collaboration with more than 1.1 million
prescribing clinicians. However, Cigna claims data shows that despite a
reduction in the number of prescriptions, opioid overdoses continue to
rise. This is consistent with CDC
data showing a continued increase in overdose deaths due to opioids
and other substances in 2016 and provisional
CDC data which shows the trend continued in 2017.
“The continued increase in people suffering from overdoses is alarming,
and immediate action is needed to help disrupt this trend,” said Doug
Nemecek, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna. “We
know we can’t do it alone and are collaborating with partners on local
efforts to curb this preventable disease by improving care for people
with chronic pain and substance use disorders.”
To track against the goal of reducing overdoses by 25 percent, Cigna
will measure claims submitted with an opioid overdose diagnosis code.
The company will also continue to measure the total volume of opioids
being prescribed based on morphine milligram equivalent doses, taking
into account the number of pills and the dosing of those pills, as well
as the relative strengths of opioid medications. Cigna will also
continue to ask provider groups to sign a pledge to reduce opioid
prescribing and to treat opioid use disorder as a chronic condition. To
date, more than 9,000 provider groups and more than 130,000 prescribing
clinicians have signed the Cigna opioid pledge, which dovetails with the
U.S. Surgeon General’s “Turn
the Tide” pledge and the CDC’s opioid
In May 2018, the company initiated a consumer-focused
awareness campaign to advance the concept of a “pain plan” and
encourage conversations among individuals and health care providers
about the safe use of opioids and other pain management options. As part
of this campaign, Cigna's dedicated pain
resource hub provides educational material and resources about pain,
how it manifests, how it’s treated and how to manage it safely.
For more information on Cigna’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic,
please visit https://www.cigna.com/about-us/healthcare-leadership/away-from-blame.
Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI) is a global health service company dedicated
to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of
security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or
through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna
Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance
Company, Life Insurance Company of North America, Cigna Life Insurance
Company of New York, or their affiliates. Such products and services
include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental,
behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other
related products including group life, accident and disability
insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in over 30 countries and
jurisdictions, and has more than 95 million customer relationships
throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including
links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.
For more information about Cigna's proposed acquisition of Express
Scripts, please visit www.advancinghealthcare.com.
1 Seth P, Scholl L, Rudd RA, Bacon S. Overdose Deaths
Involving Opioids, Cocaine, and Psychostimulants — United States,
2015–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:349–358. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6712a1
2 Gomes T, Tadrous M, Mamdani MM, Paterson JM, Juurlink DN.
The Burden of Opioid-Related Mortality in the United States. JAMA
Network Open. 2018;1(2):e180217. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0217.
Available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2682878
3 Cox C, Rae, M, Sawyer, B. A look at how the opioid crisis
has affected people with employer coverage. Kaiser Family Foundation.
April 5, 2018. Available at https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/a-look-at-how-the-opioid-crisis-has-affected-people-with-employer-coverage/
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180621005537/en/