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CVS to Start Limiting Opioid Prescriptions to 7-Day Supply

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On Thursday, CVS Pharmacy announced it will begin limiting opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for certain conditions, starting February 2018. CVS did not elaborate as to which conditions would be limited by the policy beyond “acute prescriptions.”

According to CVS, the retailer will follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when dispensing opioids. This includes limiting the duration and dose of opioid prescriptions and prioritizing immediate-release formulations before extended-release medications. It is the first major pharmacy chain to place a restriction on how many pills a doctor can prescribe.

“Without a doubt, addressing our nation’s opioid crisis calls for a multipronged effort involving many health care stakeholders, from doctors, dentists and pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies and government officials,” Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement detailing CVS’ new policies.

CVS will also require pharmacists talk to customers about addiction as well as how to safely store and dispose of opioid medications. The major pharmaceutical retailer will also offer in-store opioid disposal units in 750 of its pharmacies.

CVS dispenses medications for nearly 90 million customers, NBC News reported. It’s not clear if or how its policies will affect customers who use opioids to treat chronic pain.

According to a review of studies, the majority of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain do not develop an addiction. While the opioid crisis is a serious issue nationwide that needs to be addressed, opioid restrictions and policies changes have people living with chronic conditions concerned they won’t be able to manage their pain.

“People don’t seem to realize how many lives opioid medication saves,” Anne Turner, who lives with fibromyalgia, previously told The Mighty. “With chronic pain, there’s no escape from the agony and for many, opioids are the only way of achieving some kind of relief. Without them, I can’t work, I can’t look after my home, I can’t even look after myself. With them, I have as close to a normal life as I can hope for. This truth seems to be lost in the current opioid debate.”

Originally published: September 22, 2017
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