What We're Reading: Denying OxyContin; Prototype for Delivering Vaccines; Protecting Seniors From Hurricanes

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is the latest insurer to announce it will no longer pay for OxyContin and will instead cover newer abuse-deterrent opioids; a new prototype may upend the way people get vaccinated during an influenza pandemic through patches with microscopic needles; as Hurricane Florence prepares to hit the Carolinas, health officials are trying to protect seniors, who tend to be the most vulnerable and bear the brunt of storms.

Insurers Refuse to Cover OxyContin

More and more insurers are deciding they will no longer cover OxyContin in the face of dozens of lawsuits against maker Purdue Pharma and the continuing opioid epidemic. NPR reported that BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) is the latest insurer to announce it will no longer pay for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever. Cigna and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida dropped coverage last year. Instead, BCBST will cover newer abuse-deterrent opioids, which it says work better. While Tennessee doctors approve the change, they still advocate for insurers covering other types of treatment, such as muscle relaxants.

Planning for a Pandemic With a New Type of Vaccination

During a pandemic, millions of people will need to be inoculated without overwhelming health centers or spreading the disease further. A new prototype may upend the way people get vaccinated through patches that can be distributed and administered without a health professional, according to The Washington Post. The strip is lined with microscopic needles that only penetrate the upper layer of the skin. The study showed the prototype protected ferrets from the H5N1 influenza virus and still needs to be tested in large-scale human trials.

Health Officials Hurry to Protect Seniors During Hurricane Florence

As Hurricane Florence prepares to hit the Carolinas, health officials are trying to protect seniors, who tend to be the most vulnerable and bear the brunt of storms. According to Kaiser Health News, seniors have the most difficulty evacuating because they may be homebound or not have any transportation. In addition, some fragile patients, who need oxygen or intravenous medicines, might be at more danger if they are moved. South Carolina has evacuated 32 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.