Friday, October 9, 2015

Colorado Medicaid Now Covers Opioid Overdose Antidote Nasal Spray

To help reduce the number of deaths from opioid-related overdoses, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (the Department) has announced that Colorado Medicaid now covers a nasal mist atomizer device that can be used to administer an opioid overdose antidote. While the drug Naloxone is not new, it has historically been administered through an injection, and is now available as a nasal mist. Medicaid's coverage of the device will enable a family member or friend to administer Naloxone more quickly and easily to someone at risk of an opiate-related overdose.

Like many other states, Colorado has seen an increase in deaths related to opioid overdoses. Each year, about 300 Coloradans die from opioid overdoses and another 17,000 people die nationally. Earlier this year, Governor Hickenlooper helped launch a new public awareness campaign, "Take Meds Seriously," aimed at addressing the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

"This benefit supports the Governor's initiative to reduce opioid overdose deaths in Colorado," said Susan E. Birch, MBA, BSN, RN, executive director for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. "We are hoping to save lives and encourage other health plans to follow this lead."

"We are excited to offer this benefit to our members and to help combat this nation-wide public health issue of opioid overdose," said Dr. Judy Zerzan, MD, Chief Medical Officer. "Using the atomizer, overdoses may be treated more easily and efficiently as almost anyone may administer this life saving drug nasally with little training."

During the 2015 legislative session, Colorado Senate Bill 053 was enacted to provide immunity to licensed prescribers and dispensers from civil and criminal prosecution for any outcomes resulting from the prescribing or dispensing of Naloxone products. Prescribers may legally write a Naloxone prescription for a family member, friend or other person who may be in a position to assist someone at risk of an overdose. Although health care professionals are granted immunity from administration outcomes, they are strongly encouraged to educate those receiving Naloxone on its proper use.

For more information, visit the Department's Pain Management Resources web page.