Professional standards require alternative therapies designed to limit harm to Blue Cross and Blue Shield members

Chicago – The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) National Council of Physician and Pharmacist Executives (NCPE) at its March meeting adopted a professional standard that opioids should not be prescribed as first or second lines of pain therapy in   most clinical situations.

The standard was unanimously supported by the NCPE, a committee that includes medical officers and pharmacy experts from Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies around the nation, and aligns with recent CDC guidelines. It is designed to limit unnecessary harm for the 106 million members served by BCBS companies. BCBS companies will promote alternatives that include more optimal use of non-opioid prescription painkillers and existing over-the-counter pain medications.

“Due to the lack of evidence combined with significant potential for harm, we believe professional standards require that BCBS members are given alternative options to opioids in most clinical situations,” said Dr. Trent Haywood, chief medical officer for BCBSA. “We will work with medical professionals to ensure BCBS members are routinely provided alternatives to opioids through a mutual decision made inside the doctor’s office.”