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Larissa Doucette

After implementing stricter requirements for certain painkiller prescriptions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Massachusetts, the state’s largest private health insurer, has released the results of an “18-month checkup.” Among the findings, long-acting opioid claims were reduced by 50%, and short-acting opioid claims were reduced by 20%. The policies have helped to avoid excess painkiller prescriptions and have resulted in 6.6 million fewer doses of prescription opioids in the community, indicates BCBS. In addition, 90% of patients who were prescribed higher-than-recommended daily doses of acetaminophen had their prescriptions adjusted by their prescribers. In July 2012, BCBS of Massachusetts revised its policies after an internal review showed that more than 30,000 of its members received prescriptions for powerful painkillers that lasted more than 30 days, which many experts believe increases the risk of addiction and abuse. Under the plan, patients must receive authorization from the company for more than a 30-day supply of short-acting painkillers within a two-month period, The Boston Globe reports. Long-acting opioids must always be authorized.