What We're Reading: Cigna Eases Barriers to Drug That Treats Opioid Addiction

What we’re reading, October 24, 2016: Cigna makes it easier for clinicians to prescribe drugs to treat opioid addiction; some hospitals move to eliminate sugary drinks from their campuses; and a researcher at the National Cancer Institute was months late to notify authorities of 2 deaths in the clinical trial he oversaw.

Cigna has eased pre-authorization requirements for prescribing buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid addiction. Previously, physicians were required to submit a prior approval form that asked several questions about the patient, sometimes waiting days for coverage approval. The move initially came as a result of a settlement between Cigna and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; Cigna then decided to amend the requirements nationwide.

Increasing numbers of hospitals are removing sugary drinks from their cafeterias and vending machines in an attempt to encourage healthier choices, but not everyone agrees on the practicality of the bans. Several hospital workers interviewed by STAT News felt that patients and visitors should have the right to decide what they want to drink. Critics of the bans also questioned the decision to leave diet sodas available, since some research says artificial sweeteners can be harmful, as well.

A researcher at the National Cancer Institute waited several months to notify authorities of 2 subjects who died during his clinical trial. Two patients with lymphoma participating in a trial of ibrunitib died of infections in May and December 2015, but the principal investigator did not file an “unanticipated problem” report until May of this year. The National Institutes of Health plans to provide training sessions for other researchers and audit more clinical trials in an effort to prevent future lapses in reporting.