CIGNA drops Oxycontin on employer-based plans

CIGNA, one of the nation's largest health insurers, says it will stop covering Oxycontin prescriptions on its employer-based plans.

Oxycontin is the branded version of the painkiller Oxycodone.

The company says customers who have started Oxycodone for cancer or hospice care are exempt. Other patients will be switched to Xtampa ER or other alternatives.

CIGNA says the move will deter abuse because the alternative drugs maintain a constant dosage even if it's crushed.

RELATED STORY: What to do when you think a loved one is abusing drugs

In response to Cigna's actions, the maker of OxyContin said both drugs have similar properties, and called the move is a financial one.

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NC investigating drug makers, distributors.

Opioid addiction is the No. 1 cause of death in North Carolina according to state health leaders.

Last year, 1200 people in North Carolina died from the disorder a 20 percent increase.

According to Wake County EMS, total call volume in opioid overdose calls increased by 12 percent during the period from 2013-15, while suspected opioid overdose increased by 20 percent..

Durham EMS said that overdose calls increased from 361 in 2015 to 479 in 2016.

READ MORE: NC investigating opioid drug makers, distributors
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