5 things to know about the CVS opioid prescription changes

Phillip Cunningham
September 23, 2017

This move makes CVS the pioneer among national retail pharmacy chains to limit the number of opioids physicians can prescribe.

CVS, which manages medications for almost 90 million customers at 9,700 retail locations, plans to roll out the initiatives to control opioid abuse as of February 1, 2018.

Through its pharmacy benefit manager, CVS Caremark, which has 90 million plan members, the company will introduce three new policies, effective in February.

The pharmacy giant is also mandating pharmacists discuss addiction risks, storage security and disposal processes with patients receiving opioids.

According to a release on the CVS Health website, opioid overdose deaths quadrupled from 1999 to 2015.

"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.


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

Ford says KDMC has been working on similar ways to fight the epidemic and says this announcement by CVS could definitely help with their mission. Together, the CVS Health Foundation and National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) convened a panel of experts to develop a protocol of best practices for community health centers on provider prescribing guidelines, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral health and collaboration with other community organizations to treat and prevent prescription drug abuse among at-risk patients.

Doctors can ask for exemptions for certain patients, CVS said, and employers and insurers can opt out of the program.

A large approach will be limiting opioid prescriptions.

CVS Health is doing its part to help fight the national opioid epidemic, which accounted for more than 50,000 deaths previous year alone.

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