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Suboxone no longer covered by CareSource effective March 1

MIAMI VALLEY -- CareSource will no longer cover Suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addictions, beginning March first.

The insurance provider said they will be switching from the brand name drug in a strip form to a generic tablet.

A young woman who says she relies on the drug to fight her heroin addiction called Fox 45 for help to get answers, and to voice her worries for the Miami Valley's recovering community.

"To do something like this in the middle of a crisis, an epidemic, where an entire generation is being wiped out its crazy," said April Erion.

"I bury somebody every week and I have an outfit that is the funeral outfit," Erion continued, "And that's sad that I have to make sure that I wash it every week because I'll probably need it."

Erion said she has lost five friends to heroin overdoses during 2017 so far, part of a record high number of overdose deaths according to the Montgomery County Coroners office, who recently told Fox 45 they were looking to rent out refrigeration space because of the amount of cases coming into the morgue.

Erion said she learned of the change in a letter from her insurance provider dated January 31.

"The tablets did not work as well for me and the doctor that I had took me off them and switched me to the strips because the dosing was complicated," Erion explained.

She said she asked the pharmacy she uses if they would be stocking the generic pills she told Fox 45 they said they had not been alerted to the change. Erion also said she wasn't just worried about a change in the form of the drug, but for any user who may have complications with their prescription.

"If I'm gunna take it to my pharmacy they're going to tell me they can't fill it and they're going to tell me they have to order it," Erion said, "This is not a medication that you can pick up in three days it does not work like that, you need to take it every single day for it to be effective."

"Its just as easy to go get heroin to get well when they tell you your prescription can't be filled," Erion continued.

FOX 45 requested an on-camera interview with CareSource about the switch.

CareSource released a statement that reads:

"CareSource, a nationally recognized nonprofit health plan, is announcing a change that will impact Medicaid members with opioid dependency. The health plan will change from the current brand name medications (Bunavail, Suboxone and Zubsolv) to the generic buprenorphine/naloxone for treatment of opioid dependency. The buprenorphine/naloxone generic tablet is administered daily and dissolves by mouth as easily as the brand name strips. The tablet has the same active ingredients and is proven to be as effective as the brand name products.

As a company that administers government health programs such as Medicaid, CareSource makes it a priority to provide access to quality health care while managing costs. As with all medicines used in treatment, drug therapy should be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for the member, which could also include counseling and psychosocial support.

CareSource understands how important it is for members to get the medication needed to manage an illness or dependency and has developed a member and health care provider education and outreach program. Members can expect more information about this alternative medicine and its effectiveness and will continue to receive information on an ongoing basis. The outreach communication will include the medication transition plan, which will take effect March 1, 2017.

CareSource has a 27-year history of member-centric service and support. The company’s mission is focused on improving the health and well-being of our members. CareSource pledges a continued commitment to help members facing an opioid dependency through their treatment process while advocating to the broader community about this national epidemic.

Members impacted by this change are encouraged to contact their doctor promptly to avoid disruption in treatment.

CareSource members with questions should call 1-800-488-0134 for assistance."

"People think it's so easy, oh they're going to cover this one and not that one but it's not that easy," said April Erion, "But it's not that easy and it's a monkey wrench for people who may barely be sober as it is."

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