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Blue Cross Unveils Plan Confronting Painkiller Abuse

Opioid prescription sales have increased more than 600 percent in the last 10 years. (AP)

Prescription pain killers: many of us use them at some point or another, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’re being used more than ever, more than necessary, and more than is legal.

The statistics are unsettling. Opioid prescription sales have increased more than 600 percent in the last decade.

Two million people admitted to using a prescription painkiller non-medically for the first time in the last year, 70 percent of whom obtained the drugs from friends or family, either directly or through purchase or theft.

And prescription painkillers have become the No. 1 cause of unintentional overdose deaths, surpassing cocaine and heroin combined.

In other words, we have a prescription painkiller problem. Sen. John Kerry addressed the issue at a drug summit in Chelsea earlier today. But the state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has unveiled a plan to confront painkiller abuse that gives the insurer a more active role in monitoring a patient’s pain medication.


  • Dr. John Fallon, chief physician executive, Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Dr. Lynda Young, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society


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  • Mpg4me887

    This might create more problems than it will solve, and cause greater hardship for people with chronic pain and for those who treat them.  I am a nurse who works with patients with chronic pain related to vertebral disc herniation and other problems.  Will they be exempt from the BCBS auditing?

    • Philip Bernstein

      I completely agree. My Mom has a chronic back condition and without her vicodin she would be bed ridden and in terrible pain. I think making them get reviewed after 30 days is burdensome and unnecessary particularly when my Mom is very educated (as I”m sure are many people) and understands the potential downsides of taking opiods.

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