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State, Excellus BCBS Work To Reduce Painkiller Abuse

Thomas Niedermueller, Getty Images

Utica, NY (WIBX) – Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield is getting some help from the state in its attempt to curb painkiller abuse.

Governor Cuomo has signed the I-STOP bill into law, creating an internet database to track the over-prescribing of certain prescription drugs.

Dr. Frank Dubeck, Chief Medical Officer for Medical Policy with Excellus, says the insurance provider has had a similar program in place since 2007, but on a smaller scale.

What we’ve been doing is basically mining our claims data to identify people who have patterns that we think are suggestive of such a problem, and then notifying their primary care doctors and all the treating and prescribing doctors,” Dubeck said. “We are operating within the limits of HIPPA, privacy and our patients’ best interests, but we can only help the patients who have our insurance.”

Those identified as possible painkiller abusers are offered outpatient treatment with a drug called Suboxone, used to treat opiate addiction.

Excellus’ initiative saw a ten percent decrease in visits to inpatient detox centers from 2011, compared to 2009. Still, the insurance provider says one in 20 people age 12 and older use painkillers without a valid medical reason.

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