June 2018

Cigna Furthers its Commitment to Help Combat the Opioid Epidemic

A new marketing campaign, as well as employer communication materials, encourage conversations among employees and health care providers about the safe use of opioids and other pain management options.

Cigna is furthering its commitment to combat the national opioid epidemic. We're launching a new online campaign that features easy-to-use tools to inform Americans and their loved ones about the safe use of opioids for pain management.

Our focus is on preventing the risk of opioid misuse, before a prescription is written. An estimated 2.5 million people suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in the United States1. Additionally, 1 in 5 people have an increased risk of opioid addiction with just a 10-day prescription2. The new campaign promotes the concept of a “pain plan,” which is intended to help people partner with their health care providers to better understand available treatments. The plan incorporates behavioral, pharmaceutical and medical options, providing guidance for the safe and appropriate use of opioids. We also encourage individuals to set practical goals for pain relief.

“Both acute and chronic pain can be debilitating, and we understand the real challenges people face when trying to cope with their pain,” said Douglas Nemecek, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna. “We want to help people better understand pain, how it manifests, and ultimately, how to manage it safely and effectively, immediately and over time. The best place to begin is to have an informed conversation with your health care provider and develop a highly personalized pain plan together.”

Opioid addiction has tangible impact on workplace productivity and wellness. In fact, employees with substance use disorders miss nearly 50% more workdays than their peers3. A proprietary study from Cigna found that while 80% of respondents agree that “anyone could become addicted to opioids, even someone like me,” the majority are unaware or disagree that “opioids are not safe to take for more than one week without an increased risk of addiction”4.

Cigna’s new pain resource website provides tools for individuals, health care providers and employers to help prevent opioid misuse. The website will help enable people to have informed conversations with health care providers about chronic and acute pain, as well as the risks and benefits associated with opioid prescriptions. In addition, employers can access Cigna's Opioid Employer Toolkit, which provides communications that make it easy to educate and engage employees.

This campaign comes on the heels of Cigna's recent announcement that, in partnership with more than 1.1 million prescribing clinicians, the company has achieved a 25% reduction in opioid use among its customers, reaching this key metric one year ahead of the projected goal.

  1. McLellan AT. Substance Misuse and Substance use Disorders: Why do they Matter in Healthcare? Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. 2017;128:112-130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5525418/
  2. Shah A, Hayes CJ, Martin BC. Characteristics of Initial Prescription Episodes and Likelihood of Long-Term Opioid Use — United States, 2006–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:265–269. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6610a1.
  3. Goplerud, Eric, et al. “A Substance Use Cost Calculator for US Employers with an Emphasis on Prescription Pain Medication Misuse.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Nov. 2017.
  4. Omnibus Survey, Cigna, 11/3/17-11/6/17.