CVS announces new limits on prescription opioids

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (CBS) – CVS is taking steps to combat the “rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse” by putting new restrictions on prescription painkillers.

Starting in February, the chain’s new policy will put a 7-day limit on the supply of certain prescriptions for patients who are new to opioid therapy. Additionally, the daily dosage of painkillers will be limited based on how strong the opioid is, and immediate-release opioids will be favored over extended-release versions.

CVS Health Chief Dr. Troyen Brennan told The Wall Street Journal that currently, many CVS-covered patients get opioid prescriptions of 20 days or more to treat acute pain.

CVS also plans to boost efforts to educate patients about the dangers of opioid addiction, and pharmacists will advise customers about dependency risks and the importance of keeping the medication secure.

“In many ways, the abuse of opiates can be seen as the leading public health emergency the United States faces today,” Brennan stated. “In light of the human suffering and financial costs caused by the current epidemic, a thoughtful, responsible, evidence-based treatment of pain is a service we must provide to our patients.”

Another component of the new program announced by CVS is an expansion of safe disposal sites at its stores.

Starting this fall, another 750 disposal kiosks will be available nationwide, including in Massachusetts.

The new measures bring CVS policy in alignment with Centers For Disease Control guidelines, the pharmacy says. Employers and insurers are able to opt out of the new rules.

More than 90 million people use CVS for their prescriptions.

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