CVS is now limiting opioid prescriptions

As part of several new measures to curb the rate of opioid addiction and overdoses, CVS Health is enacting seven-day opioid prescription limitations for acute conditions, the company announced Thursday.

The prescription limits will be carried out by the company's prescription drug management division, CVS Caremark. In addition to the seven-day cap for acute prescriptions, CVS Caremark will limit the daily dose of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid and initially require patients to use immediate-release opioids for pain before moving to extended-release formulations.

If pharmacists encounter a prescription that is not in accordance with these guidelines, they will contact the physician and ask him or her to revise the prescription.

Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS, told USA Today the pharmacy often encounters 30- to 60-day prescriptions for high potency opioids.

"We see that all too often in the marketplace and we believe it's appropriate to limit those prescriptions to a much more moderate and appropriate supply," said Mr. Merlo. "We think this can help make an impact."

The move from CVS comes as physicians, drugmakers, drug wholesalers and insurers feel growing pressure to address the crisis.

In regards to the possible role of these separate entities in facilitating the crisis, Mr. Merlo told USA Today, "From my perspective, it's not a blame game at this point … I think as healthcare stakeholders we all play an important role in being part of the solution."

Additional measures announced by CVS Thursday to address the crisis include installing in-store medication disposal units, donating additional funds for addiction treatment and expanding opioid abuse education.

More articles on opioids: 
Opioid overdose deaths chip away at US life expectancy 
NYC police seize 140 pounds of fentanyl — enough to kill 32M people 
37 state AGs call on insurance industry to prioritize non-opioid pain meds: 3 things to know

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