Daily dosage limits will be based on the strength of the opioid and CVS pharmacists will require the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed, lowering the risk of tolerance to the highly addictive drugs.
The largest pharmacy chain in the U.S.is enacting strict restrictions on patient supplies for opioid painkillers in an effort to curb addiction rates amid record drug deaths.
CVS Caremark plans to roll out opioid utilization control initiatives for all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients as of February 1, 2018 unless the client chooses to opt out. First, patients new to opioids will only get seven days' worth of medication.
In 2015, doctors wrote more than 225 million opioid prescriptions.
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The CVS announcement comes on the heels of a special publication released by the National Academy of Medicine, "First, Do No Harm", which calls on the leadership and action of doctors to help reverse the "course of preventable harm and suffering from prescription opioids".
"CVS Health has long partnered with us to help prevent and address prescription drug abuse and we understand the depth of the company's commitment and the breadth of their ability to respond", said Fred Muench, PhD, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The company also plans to strengthen its disposal collection program with the addition of kiosks at pharmacies.
"In particular at King's Daughters, we're working on a non-narcotic pain regimen or pain control regimen that we can offer our patients when they are in the hospital that can reduce the amount of medication they can get while they're inpatients and as outpatients". More than 100 metric tons of unwanted medication was disposed through the program in the past two years.
CVS manages medications for almost 90 million customers at 9,700 retail locations.