Cigna Launches Opioid Awareness Campaign With Some Celeb Help

By Paul Gaita 05/22/18

The campaign will arm people with tools to prevent opioid abuse and also educate patients about pain management.

Rocco DiSpirito
Chef Rocco DiSpirito is one of a number of celebrity influencers who will help spread the campaign's messages.

Health insurer Cigna unveiled a new online campaign that will provide users with a strategy to avoid the misuse of opioids.

With promotional help from nationally known celebrities such as football player Travis Kelce and chef Rocco DiSpirito, the campaign will help patients and health care providers establish a "pain plan" with information on available and alternative treatments and guidance on safe opioid use.

Cigna will also assist patients with its "Help With Pain" website, which can identify whether a prescription is an opioid or not; they can also text "Help With Pain" to 25792 for a list of questions about opioids for their health care providers.

Cigna, which recently announced that its partnership with more than 1 million prescribing physicians has resulted in a 25% reduction in opioid use among its customers, seeks to further impact the national opioid crisis by providing information to patients who may not be aware of the potential for dependency from opioids.

The company recently issued a proprietary study that found that while 80% of respondents agreed that anyone could become addicted to prescription opioids, the majority of those polled either disagreed or were unaware that "opioids were not safe to take for more than one week without an increased risk of addiction."

To address that gap in information, Cigna's "pain plan" will give patients and health care providers a greater understanding of the scope of pain management, including behavioral, pharmaceutical and medical options, as well as a set of goals for pain relief.

Additional information can be found on Cigna's "Help with Pain" website, which will equip individuals, physicians and employers with tools to prevent the chance of dependency, including information to determine whether a medication is an opioid or not by entering its name on the website. 

Texting "Help with Pain" to 25792 will also arm patients with a list of questions about opioids for their doctor, as well as links to related resources.

"It's important that people take control of their health by educating them about pain management and encouraging them to talk to their care provider to create a pain plan," said Stephen Cassell, vice president of global branding at Cigna. "We've made this process easy and simple. When people send us a text message, we'll respond with the key questions to ask their care provider when discussing pain management."

A host of celebrity "influencers" will also help Cigna spread its message of information, including Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, and Pinteresting Plans blogger Rachel Moore, among others.

Each will share their reasons for supporting Cigna's initiative and share some preventive ideas. 

"We want to help people better understand pain, how it manifests and ultimately, how to manage it safely and effectively, immediately and over time," said Dr. Douglas Nemeck, Cigna's chief medical officer for behavioral health.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.