Insurance Rules Limiting Access to Buprenorphine May Worsen Opioid Epidemic

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The growing use of insurance pre-authorization rules has limited prescriptions of the addiction medication buprenorphine among Medicare patients in the past decade, a new study finds. These rules may be contributing to the opioid epidemic, according to HealthDay.

Almost 90 percent of insurance plans offered buprenorphine without restriction in 2007. By 2018, that number had shrunk to 35 percent.

“Buprenorphine is a safe and effective treatment that decreases deaths due to opioids and stops heroin and other opioid use. People on buprenorphine are able to get their lives back together,” co-author Todd Korthuis, M.D., M.P.H. of the Oregon Health Sciences University said in a news release. “Medicare insurance companies are making it increasingly difficult to prescribe buprenorphine while making it easy to prescribe opioid pain medications that contributed to the opioid epidemic.”

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