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Attorney General urging health insurers to switch to non-opioid drugs

Photo courtesy of Martin Vorel

Attorney General Jim Hood has joined 37 attorneys generals in urging health insurance companies to find ways to make non-opioid pain management more accessible for people who are currently treating their pain with addictive opioids. 

“Right now, many insurance companies cover opioids, which, under those plans, are not as expensive as less addictive pain medicines,” said General Hood. “People shouldn’t be forced to buy opioids that will get them addicted just because it’s cheaper. The way the system is set up is literally killing people.”

General Hood, along with a bipartisan coalition of states and territories, sent a letter this week to America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national association representing the nation’s insurance companies. 

The letter encouraged the use of non-opioid alternatives for treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain and urges insurers to review their coverage and payment policies as the starting point in a coalition-initiated dialogue focused on incentive structures across the insurance industry.

The group argues that incentives that promote the use of non-opioid techniques will increase the practicality of medical providers considering such treatments, including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care and non-opioid medications.

The letter also encourages doctors to prescribe non-opioid medicines that can be purchased over the counter, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. 

“Health insurers are in a position where they can help relieve this epidemic in our country,” said AG Hood. “It’s going to take compassion over profits, from the insurers to the drug manufacturers, to change the way we deal with patients’ pain.”

 According to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the number of opioid prescriptions in the state makes Mississippi the fifth highest prescriber per capita in the nation, with 1.07 prescriptions per person. The letter notes the number of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled since 1999, despite Americans reporting a steady amount of pain. A copy of the letter is available at

The letter also notes that the number of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled since 1999, despite Americans reporting a steady amount of pain. 

In December of 2015, General Hood led the nation in filing the first lawsuit on behalf of a state against multiple drug manufacturing companies for falsely marketing opioids as rarely addictive. The suit was filed in the Hinds County Chancery Court against 17 companies.

General Hood charges that the companies deceived Mississippi Medicaid, doctors, and consumers in order to boost profits at the expense of innocent victims.

 Additional AG’s across the nation that signed the letter include Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

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