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Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers

ProPublica and The New York Times analyzed Medicare prescription drug plans covering 35.7 million people in the second quarter of this year. Only one-third of the people covered, for example, had any access to Butrans, a painkilling skin patch that contains a less-risky opioid, buprenorphine. And every drug plan that covered lidocaine patches, which are not addictive but cost more than other generic pain drugs, required that patients get prior approval for them.Have You Had Difficulty Paying For or Obtaining Prescriptions?The New York Times would like to hear from people about their experiences paying for prescription drugs.In contrast, almost every plan covered common opioids and very few required any prior approval.The insurers have also erected more hurdles to approving addiction treatments than for the addictive substances themselves, the analysis found.Alisa Erkes lives with stabbing pain in her abdomen that, for more than two years, was made tolerable by Butrans. But in January, her insurer, UnitedHealthcare, stopped covering the drug, which had cost the company $342 for a four-week supply. After unsuccessfully appealing the denial, Ms. Erkes and her doctor scrambled to find a replacement that would quiet her excruciating stomach pains. They eventually settled on long-acting morphine, a cheaper opioid that UnitedHealthcare covered with no questions asked. It costs her and her insurer a total of $29 for a month’s supply.Continue reading the main storyThe Drug Enforcement Administration places morphine in a higher category than Butrans for risk of abuse and dependence […]

Green Curry, my discovery and my recipe (with Crab)

Living in the Midwest, we simply did not become aware of Thai cuisine until the late 70’s. It was then that many displaced persons from Southeast Asia began to settle in the Midwest, bringing with them extraordinary flavors and colorful food. My first experience was a business trip to Des Moines. We had an exhibit […]