CVS Health has announced major initiatives to improve both opioid use management and safe drug disposal in an effort to address the ongoing national opioid epidemic.
Starting February 1, 2018, CVS Caremark will begin limiting the supply of opioids dispensed to opioid-naive patients to a 7-day supply for certain acute prescriptions. In addition, the program will limit the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the drug as well as require the use of immediate-release formulations before extended-release opioids can be dispensed.
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 plan also includes an expansion of the drug disposal collection program which will add more kiosks at retail pharmacies nationwide.
“We see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health. “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 nearly 90 million plan members.”
An interim report released in August by the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended President Trump declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, which would free up funds to tackle the issue. Following the recommendation, Trump told the press that the opioid epidemic “is a national emergency,” but to date there has been no official announcement.
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