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CVS Sets 7-Day Limit On Opioid Prescriptions

CVS is now the first national pharmacy retailer to limit opioid prescriptions, announcing that it will cap the number of pain pills doctors can give patients to the amount they need for seven days only.

The limit will be imposed for certain conditions. It means that customers experiencing acute, short-term pain will only be allowed to purchase one week’s worth of opioids with a single prescription, Today reports.

In addition, pharmacists filling the prescriptions will likewise be required to talk to patients about the responsible use of opioids, precautions in storing them at home, proper disposal and addiction risks, CVS stated. These measures are part of the company’s efforts to help stem the country’s alarming addiction rates.

This move by the nation’s largest pharmacy chain to limit drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin puts a significant restriction on patients. The average supply that doctors in the US allow patients increased from 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Health, said,

We have some situations, in which we feel that there are certain physicians who are prescribing way too high of doses and way too strong of medications.

He added, “We’ve got an epidemic on our hands, and we’ve got clear evidence that, if we restrict access to these medications, more than we’re doing so right now, we’ll reduce the amount of addiction that occurs, and as a result of that, we’ll reduce the amount of human suffering.”

The daily dosage limits will depend on the strength of the painkiller. CVS pharmacists will also require immediate-release formulations of opioids before extend-release ones, lowering the tolerance risk to highly addictive medications.

CVS fills medications for over 90 million consumers at 9,700 locations. It intends to begin these new initiatives to combat opioid abuse on February 1, 2018. While it would take a multi-faceted approach to lower addiction rates, this is a step in the right direction, at least.

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