Life insurers declining coverage for those who purchase naloxone

A nurse working at an addiction treatment program at Boston Medical Center was denied life insurance for carrying the life-saving drug naloxone, according to wbur.

Pharmacies in the state of Massachusetts have a standing order for the opioid-reversing drug to help reduce overdose deaths. Isela — who asked to be referred to only by her first name — received naloxone over the counter in case she encountered a patient with an opioid overdose. But to an insurer, it is hard to tell the difference between someone carrying naloxone to save other people's lives and someone carrying naloxone because they could overdose.

Isela's insurance agent indicated she needed to obtain a signed letter from the physician who signed the statewide standing order: Alex Walley, MD, who also works at Boston Medical Center.

Dr. Walley is the medical director for the Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and has written several letters for applicants who have been denied life and disability insurance because of it.

"My biggest concern is that people will be discouraged by this from going to get a naloxone rescue kit at the pharmacy," Dr. Walley told wbur. "So this has been frustrating."

Boston Medical Center has informed the state Division of Insurance, which indicated it will review the cases and draft new guidelines for "the reasonable use of drug history information in determining whether to issue a life insurance policy."

More articles on opioids:

Missouri hospital physicians urged to limit opioid prescriptions
FDA opioid-reduction challenge winners announced
China will make fentanyl a controlled substance

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