Trending News Today: OxyContin Prescriptions No Longer Covered on Cigna Employer-Based Health Plans

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

Regular visits to the sauna may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a recent Finnish study suggests. Included in the study were 1621 middle-aged men with normal blood pressure who were followed for an average of 25 years, according to The New York Times. During the study period, 251 participants developed hypertension. Individuals who reported having 2 to 3 sauna sessions per week were 24% less likely to have hypertension compared with those who reported 1 session per week or less. Furthermore, 4 to 7 visits a week reduced the risk by 46%. Senior author Dr Jari A. Laukkanen told the NY Times that the warmth of the sauna improves the flexibility of blood vessels to ease blood flow, and the warmth and subsequent cooling down induces a general relaxation that is helpful in moderating blood pressure. Dr Laukkanen noted, however, that the study is observational and does not prove cause and effect.

Late on Tuesday, the FDA approved Mylan’s generic version of the blockbuster multiple sclerosis (MS) drug Copaxone. The approval came earlier than both Mylan and Teva Pharmaceutical expected, according to STAT News. Copaxone, the leading treatment for MS worldwide, is Teva’s best-selling drug. Last year, it generated more than $4 billion in revenue for Teva. The pharmaceutical company said that Mylan was launching the drug before resolving several patent appeals, which could result in Mylan having to pay damages in the future, STAT News reported. Shares in the United States for Teva dropped 14% to $16.17 on Wednesday, while Mylan’s shares rose from $5.96 to $38.38.

Cigna announced it will no longer cover OxyContin prescriptions for customers on its employer-based health plans, according to STAT News. Additionally, the insurance giant said it intends to reduce opioid use among its consumers by 25% by 2019. Consumers who have started treatment with OxyContin for cancer or hospice care are exempt from the policy change, STAT News reported. With the removal of OxyContin prescriptions, Cigna will replace them with Xtampza ER­—–an oxycodone equivalent with abuse deterrent properties.