Published: Sat, September 23, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

CVS announces new limits on prescription opioids

CVS announces new limits on prescription opioids

CVS Health said Thursday that it was limiting the amount and strength of prescription opioid painkillers it provides to patients taking the drugs for the first time, a step meant to help curb opioid abuse.

CVS also said that when filling prescriptions for OxyContin, Vicodin and other opioid painkillers, pharmacists must talk with patients about the risks of addiction, secure storage of medications in the home, and proper disposal of the drugs.

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Daily dosage limits will be based on the strength of the painkiller 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 company plans to roll out the new initiative on February 1, 2018. They must determine if the prescribed opioid is appropriate, compare how the opioid may interact with other medications the patient is now taking, and occasionally advise the patient on taking a different medication.

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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. Following the recommendation, Trump told the press that the opioid epidemic "is a national emergency", but to date there has been no official announcement.

"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 new guideline does not limit patients being treated for chronic pain. 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.

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CVS fills medications for over 90 million consumers at 9,700 locations.

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