CVS To Enact Restrictions On Painkillers To Help Prevention Prescription Opioid Abuse
Pharmacy titan CVS just announced today that they are planning on restricting opioid prescriptions to just seven days for certain acute conditions, such as relatively minor injuries, and will apply to those who are initiating pain therapy.
The new program will also restrict the daily dosage of pills based on potency and will mandate the use of immediate-release formulas before approving extended-released versions. The changes will be implemented next year on February 1 and will apply to all commercial, employer, health plan, and Medicaid clients “unless the client chooses to opt out.”
CVS manages prescriptions for nearly 90 million members, and it among the largest pharmacy chains in the nation, with around 9,600 stores and over 1,100 walk-in clinics.
Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Health stated the following in a statement about the new initiative:
“As America’s front door to health care, with a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse.”
“Without a doubt, addressing our nation’s opioid crisis calls for a multipronged effort involving many healthcare stakeholders, from doctors, dentists and pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies and government officials,”
The initiative will also increase pharmacist training and opioid awareness, and CVS will add in-store medication disposal units (so patients can throw away unused pills) at 750 pharmacies. Finally, CVS locations will also counsel patients receiving an opioid prescription through an opioid use education program that stresses safety and the risks of addiction.
This move by CVS comes in response to an ever-increasing opioid epidemic, which includes prescription opioid abuse and overdoses involving both opioid painkillers and illicit street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released estimates for 2016 overdose deaths, which as expected to reach over 64,000, the highest year on record.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology