In the latest move to curb the nation's opioid crisis, health insurer Cigna Corp. has announced it will stop covering prescriptions for OxyContin, a prescription opioid that has a high risk of addiction.

"Our focus is on helping customers get the most value from their medications – this means obtaining effective pain relief while also guarding against opioid misuse," Jon Maesner, Cigna's chief pharmacy officer, said in a press release. "We continually evaluate the clinical effectiveness, affordability, and safety of all our covered medications as these characteristics can change over time, and we make adjustments that we believe will provide better overall value for those we serve."

Instead, the company will offer Xtampza ER, a slow-release oxycodone equivalent that cannot be augmented to increase potency and is thus less susceptible to abuse. Cigna's agreement with the manufacturer, Collegium Pharmaceutical, also holds the company responsible if the average dosage prescribed is above a set threshold. The incentive, Cigna hopes, will discourage overprescribing and is part of the insurer's plan to cut opioid use among its customers by 25 percent by 2019.

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.