Trending News Today: Insurers Provide Limited Coverage of Non-Drug Alternatives to Opioids

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

FDA staff reviewers determined that AcelRx Pharmaceutical’s opioid painkiller offers no apparent advantage to currently available therapies, Reuters reported. According to the article, Dsuvia is a new formulation that is meant to be taken orally through a pre-filled, single-dose applicator. However, the FDA staff indicated that the small size of the pills could make it easier for patients to misplace them, potentially resulting in accidental use by others, the article reported. According to Reuters, an advisory panel to the FDA will vote on the drug on Friday.

A recent study found that US health insurance plans vary widely in coverage of non-drug therapies for chronic pain, Reuters reported. According to the article, the study authors found that insurers often provide little or no coverage for evidence-backed interventions for chronic pain, such as acupuncture or psychological counseling. Although certain types of non-drug therapies were covered by most policies, some insurers had expensive co-pays, the article reported. The authors noted that private and public insurers are missing important opportunities to promote alternatives to opioids.

A new study found that more than half of individuals with HIV who were incarcerated discontinue treatment within 3 years of leaving prison, NPR reported. According to the article, only 67.2% of the 1094 study participants remained in care 1 year after leaving prison and only 42.5% were still in care by the end of the third year. The study also showed that fully controlled HIV was more common in individuals who remained outside of prison compared with those who were reincarcerated, the article reported.