Locals respond to BCBS cutting oxycodone coverage

A cancer patient, who is prescribed oxycodone, is allergic to all other pain meds.

Locals respond to BCBS cutting oxycodone coverage

ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - Blue Cross Blue Shield announced Tuesday that they’re stopping coverage for oxycodone and OxyContin beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

They say they’re adding other OxyContin-like drugs to their coverage. Ones that are less likely to be abused.

“Xtampza would be the same type of drug, the same as OxyContin. It’s just made by a different manufacturer. It has more abuse deterrent built into it," BCBS director of pharmacy Dorinda Cale said.

Cale said BCBS made this decision to help fight the ongoing, nationwide opioid crisis.

“We recognize, like everyone else, that there are opioid concerns throughout the community, and we need to play a part in helping the opioid concerns that are out there," Cale said.

The director of pharmacy says they will offer long lasting pain medicine, that are more difficult to abuse. Cale said she thinks this will help move toward overcoming the opioid crisis.

However Justin Smith, whose wife has been battling cancer for years, sees it differently.

“The doctors have prescribed her pain medications. Through trial and error, they found that she’s allergic to just about every pain medication except oxycodone,” Smith said.

Breanna Smith, Justin’s wife, has been bedridden the past eight months. This has caused her muscles to deteriorate, so her doctor prescribed her oxycodone to help with the severe pain.

“She can’t have things like Tylenol because she has liver issues. She can’t have things like Advil or Asprin cause it’ll thin her blood out, so there’s not many choices for her being a cancer patient,” Justin Smith said.

Smith continued saying he’s concerned for when BCBS stops covering this much needed medication, because Breanna is allergic to just about everything else.

“Not all of the people that they cover abuse the drug, and I’m sure most of them take it as they’re supposed to," Smith said.

BCBS stated that they’re letting people know now, so they can make appointments with their doctor’s and get a new medication or new treatment figured out.

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