Pharmacy retailer CVS announced Thursday that it would limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions and for newly prescribed patients.
The new guidelines would also limit the daily dosage of opioids depending on their strength, and would require immediate release opioids to be used before extended-release drugs, according to a CVS press release.
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.
The changes will take place on Feb. 1, and will apply to all commercial, health plan, employer, and Medicaid clients, the release reported. 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.
The initiative will also increase the drug disposal collection program, give more counseling to those prescribed opioids about possible abuse, and give $2 million in additional funding to addiction recovery programs, including medication-assisted treatment programs, the release stated.
The program does allow clients to opt out of the initiative, the release reported.
“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. “With this expansion of our industry-leading initiatives, we are further strengthening our commitment to help providers and patients balance the need for these powerful medications with the risk of abuse and misuse.”
Those who use opioids to manage pain seemed upset at the changes, although the initiative stated that it would target those who were new users.
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