Lawmakers want insurers to pay for tamper-proof opioid pills

Photo by Lan Sheddan
Photo by Ian Sheddan


A coalition of bipartisan lawmakers, police and addiction experts is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would require insurance plans to cover opioid prescription pills that are harder to crush or liquefy, and therefore abuse.

Sen. George Amedore, Asssemblyman John McDonald and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple are among those who want insurance plans to cover abuse-deterrent opioid drugs at the same levels as non-abuse deterrent opioid drugs.

A bill (S.6962-a/A.10478) that passed both houses earlier this year by wide margins would also prevent insurance plans from requiring a patient take a non-abuse deterrent opioid drug before a drug containing abuse-deterrent technology is prescribed, and ensures that prior authorization requirements are applied equally to both abuse-deterrent and non-abuse-deterrent opioid prescription drugs



“Often, addiction begins with the misuse or abuse of prescription pain medications,” said Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, who serves as co-Chair of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction. “It’s important to embrace new technologies, make sure they are accessible and affordable for patients, and ultimately we will be able to cut down on the abuse of prescription pain medications that can lead to addiction.”

The Governor’s Heroin Task Force issued a recommendation earlier this year to make medications using abuse deterrent technology more readily accessible. The Assembly voted in favor of the new legislation 142-0 and the Senate passed it 57-1.

The FDA is encouraging the development of opioid formulations with abuse-deterrent properties to help combat the opioid epidemic. Experts recognize that opioid pills in their current form are easily crushed to be snorted or liquefied to be injected. Prescription pills that are more difficult to alter may cut down on abuse, say the bill’s supporters.



“Our communities and families have and continue to struggle with this national epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction. Therefore it is critical that we explore all options when it comes to the four main areas of focus to address this epidemic — education, enforcement, treatment and recovery,” said Assemblyman John McDonald. “Technology continues to evolve and as we recognize the fact that drug addiction is a disease and not a moral failing, we need to allow for the proper tools to be in place to protect the public.”

The law would take effect 120 days after being signed by the governor.