CVS to limit some opioid prescriptions to one week

CVS to limit some opioid prescriptions to one week
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CVS Health plans to limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain acute conditions in an effort to curb addiction to the pain medications amid the national epidemic.

The pharmacy giant announced Thursday that it will also limit the dosage of opioids based on their strength, and would require the use of immediate-release formulations before extended-release formulations intended more for severe chronic pain.

The changes will go into effect on Feb. 1, CVS said, and will affect all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients.


"Without a doubt, addressing our nation’s opioid crisis calls for a multipronged effort involving many health care stakeholders,” CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

CVS is among the largest pharmacy chains in the U.S., with 9,700 retail locations and more than 1,100 walk-in clinics.

President Trump announced plans to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency on Aug. 10.

Between 1999 and 2014, prescription opioid sales and deaths from opioids have nearly quadrupled, even though the amount of pain reported by Americans has gone unchanged, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CVS also said that it would strengthen counseling on safe opioid use for patients filling a prescription for the pain medicine, and would commit an additional $2 million to community health centers that provide medication-assisted addiction treatment and other recovery services.