Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

CVS Health Fighting National Opioid Abuse Epidemic With Enterprise Initiatives

CVS to follow federal guidelines for opioid prescriptions CVS to Limit Opioid Prescriptions to 7-Day Supply
Sammy Stanley | 23 September, 2017, 01:25

"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 almost 90 million plan members". The average supply that doctors in the U.S. allow patients increased from 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CVS also plans to boost funding for addiction programs, counseling and safe disposal of opioids.

With the move, the retail pharmacy chain becomes the first national retail chain to restrict how many pain pills doctors can give patients.

The company plans to roll out the new initiative on February 1, 2018.

"Without a doubt, addressing our nation's opioid crisis calls for a multipronged effort involving many health care stakeholders", Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement Thursday.

Based on the CDC's recommendations, CVS's new daily dosage limit is 90 morphine milligram equivalents, or MMEs, a measure of the strength of a painkiller. US opioid prescribing rates have increased from 76 million in 1991, to 207 million by 2013, the company said in a statement. Five percent of adults surveyed told the National Institute on Drug Abuse researchers they took opioids without their doctor's permission - often getting the prescription meds for free from friends or relatives.

Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS, said the initiatives respond to a uniquely American problem. "It looks as though we've gone too far in one direction in terms of this kind of liberal use of medications to treat pain and we have to do something different". More than 100 metric tons of unwanted medication, that could otherwise have been diverted, misused or abused, have been collected and safely disposed of through this program in the past two years.

CVS manages medications for almost 90M people, or ~28% of the USA population, through its Caremark unit and runs 9,700 retail pharmacies nationwide.

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