CVS to announce plan to help combat opioid addiction

CVS to announce plan to help combat opioid addiction

CVS is now the first national pharmacy retailer to limit opioid prescriptions, announcing that it will cap the number of pain pills doctors can give patients to the amount they need for seven days only.

CVS, which manages medications for almost 90 million customers at 9,700 retail locations, plans to roll out the initiatives to control opioid abuse as of February 1, 2018.

At the pharmacy level, a greater emphasis will be placed on counseling to help patients understand the risks associated with opioid use based on the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

The new limits are part of a wider initiative meant to protect patients against a fast-growing opioid abuse epidemic that has led to a sharp increase in overdose deaths attributed to opioids, CNN reported.

CVS Health said Thursday that it was limiting the amount and strength of prescription opioid painkillers it provides to patients taking the drugs for the first time, a step meant to help curb opioid abuse. CVS has nearly 90 million customers at its pharmacies each year at 9,600 CVS locations and 1,100 walk-in medical clinics in almost 10,000 communities in the United States.

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"Without a doubt, addressing our nation's opioid crisis calls for a multi-pronged effort involving many health care stakeholders", CVS Health President and CEO Larry J. Merlo said in the release.

Pharmacists will contact doctors if they see opioid prescriptions written for more than what is necessary.

In 2015, doctors wrote more than 225 million opioid prescriptions. To date, the program has focused on teens and has educated more than 295,000 students about prescription drug abuse.

"Today we are announcing an expansion of our enterprise initiatives to fight the opioid abuse epidemic that leverages CVS Pharmacy's national presence with the capabilities of CVS Caremark, which manages medications for almost 90 million plan members".

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