Opioid industry cost New Yorkers $2B in insurance premiums, Cuomo says

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the State is seeking $2 billion from opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers to help New Yorkers who have paid too much in insurance premiums over the past decade because of the opioid epidemic. Photo Credit: Don Pollard

The Department of Financial Services will seek fines and restitution from more than 50 manufacturers, distributors, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the State is seeking $2 billion from opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers to help New Yorkers who have paid too much in insurance premiums over the past decade because of the opioid epidemic.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the State is seeking $2 billion from opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers to help New Yorkers who have paid too much in insurance premiums over the past decade because of the opioid epidemic. Photo Credit: Hulu/Craig Blankenhorn

New York’s Department of Financial Services is taking on the opioid crisis.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the State is seeking $2 billion from opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers to help New Yorkers who have paid too much in insurance premiums over the past decade because of the opioid epidemic.

“The opioid scheme is as diabolical, as brazen, as obnoxious, and as offensive as anything I have seen. They knew what they were doing. This was not accidental,” Cuomo said. “The damage has been immeasurable. … We have to make sure that the drug industry does not get away with it.”

The Department of Financial Services will seek fines and restitution from the opioid industry, and is directing insurers to fully cooperate with these actions.

According to DFS, the higher premiums was in part caused by opioid manufacturers misrepresenting the risk, which led to doctors overprescribing and improperly treating patients. Common forms of opioids include OxyContin, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone.

Aside from 80% of heroin addicts claiming their addiction started with prescription pain medication, Cuomo said, the epidemic costs $78 billion per year in health care, Medicaid, and related costs.

Cuomo named more than 50 manufacturers and distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers who will be held liable, including Johnson & Johnson, Aetna Health Management LLC, and CIGNA health Care of New York Inc.

DFS plans to hold hearings throughout New York to share information on the impact of the epidemic.

Complaints against an opioid provider can be made at dfs.ny.gov/complaint or by calling the Consumer Hotline at 800-342-3736 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. — 4:30 p.m.

“We’re going to make sure justice is done and these drug companies are not going to get away with murder,” Cuomo said.

Li Yakira Cohen