CVS Health, one of the nation’s biggest pharmacies, will be taking major steps to fight America’s opioid epidemic. Beginning in February 2018, they will limit prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions and will limit the daily dose of pain pills based on strength. CVS will also set guidelines that require patients to take short-term meds before moving to extended-release opioids which are for more severe and chronic long-term pain management.
Moreover, CVS will be developing new protocols that require pharmacists to counsel patients on the risks of dependence and why it’s important to keep their medications in a safe, secure place at home. They will also almost double the amount of drug disposal units: kiosks where you can safely dispose of unused prescription medications. Plus, the pharmacy is dedicating $2 million to addiction treatments and recovery services.
What is the fuss all about? First, CVS Health is a major U.S. corporation with 9,600 CVS Pharmacy stores and more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, so their reach is pretty substantial.
Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is just as major and widespread. Experts estimate that there were around 900,000 opioid overdoses in 2015 alone, and the sale of these drugs has quadrupled in the last 20 years, even despite the fact that the presence of pain levels among Americans has stayed the same.
High five! CVS is giving this issue the attention it deserves and recognizing what an important role they play in safe or unsafe opioid use.