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Walmart Will Limit Some Opioid Prescriptions to 7 Days


Walmart announced Monday that its pharmacies will limit first-time opioid prescriptions for acute pain to a seven day or less supply. Dosages will be limited to 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day. Walmart’s updated policy will be implemented within the next 60 days.

The retailer (including both Walmart and Sam’s Club) will comply with state laws that already limit these kinds of opioid prescriptions to a less-than-seven day supply.

In addition, starting in January 2020, Walmart will require e-prescriptions for controlled substances, since they are harder to change and copy and are less prone to errors.

Back in January, Walmart announced it would provide free packets of a powder that, when poured into prescription bottles filled with warm water, turns unused pills into a biodegradable gel that can be thrown away.

Walmart’s decision follows CVS Pharmacy, which began limiting opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for certain conditions in February, and Medicare, which will also limit its recipients’ new opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven days.

While efforts to solve the opioid crisis often revolve around limiting opioid prescriptions, studies have shown between less than 1 percent and 12 percent of people who use opioids become addicted. In 2016, more deaths were caused by fentanyl than prescribed medication. The majority of people who abuse opioids begin with opioids that were not prescribed to them; studies indicate just 25 percent began with opioids from their doctors.

For people with chronic pain, it’s important for others to remember that while opioids can lead to addiction for some, the majority of users are patients who use their medication responsibly in order to participate more fully in life.

“Opiates/narcotics can be dangerous… if used incorrectly or illegally. But for people like me, who are living with multiple chronic pain conditions, this opiate crisis is affecting our treatment plans and more importantly, our quality of life and ability to function,” wrote Mighty contributor Rachel Burchfield.

Getty photo by Darwin Brandis