WOONSOCKET, R.I. (CBS) – CVS is taking steps to combat the “rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse” by putting new restrictions on prescription painkillers.

Starting in February, the chain’s new policy will put a 7-day limit on the supply of certain prescriptions for patients who are new to opioid therapy. Additionally, the daily dosage of painkillers will be limited based on how strong the opioid is, and immediate-release opioids will be favored over extended-release versions.

CVS Health Chief Dr. Troyen Brennan told The Wall Street Journal that currently, many CVS-covered patients get opioid prescriptions of 20 days or more to treat acute pain.

CVS also plans to boost efforts to educate patients about the dangers of opioid addiction, and pharmacists will advise customers about dependency risks and the importance of keeping the medication secure.

“In many ways, the abuse of opiates can be seen as the leading public health emergency the United States faces today,” Brennan stated. “In light of the human suffering and financial costs caused by the current epidemic, a thoughtful, responsible, evidence-based treatment of pain is a service we must provide to our patients.”

Another component of the new program announced by CVS is an expansion of safe disposal sites at its stores.

cvs pharmacy CVS Announces New Limits On Prescription Painkillers Amid Public Health Emergency

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Starting this fall, another 750 disposal kiosks will be available nationwide, including in Massachusetts.

The new measures bring CVS policy in alignment with Centers For Disease Control guidelines, the pharmacy says. Employers and insurers are able to opt out of the new rules.

More than 90 million people use CVS for their prescriptions.

  1. Rita Knox says:

    what is going to happen if all pharmacies start doing things like this to people who have chronic pain and need pain meds to get through the day. I already jump through hoops and pay a lot more than I need to just to be able to get the meds that let me lead a somewhat normal life. I have to pay for a pain management dr and drug screening just to get the meds. If I have to start going to the dr to get scripts written every week and get drug screens that cost $100’s where will that leave me. Being retired we are between employer paid insurance and medicare and pay a high deductable insurance so we are already paying a huge chunk of our income for health care. This is something I am sure the insurance industry is going to balk at paying so like so many other things they will stop paying for the drug screening that I already have to fight for them to pay for now. You are going to find a lot more people like me will be clogging the emergency room to get pain relief because that will be the only way they will be able to get it. People won’t be able to pay the bills and that will put a burden on the hospitals or you will have people like the 80 something year old lady who had been taking hydrocodone for arthrits for years and suddenly was denied a script for it. She felt like her only option was to have her grandson buy them for her on the streets. The crackdown on drugs is making people who are normally law abiding citizens law breakers. There has to be a better way. Doctors and their patients should be the ones who make the decisions on what drugs are needed and the government needs to let them do their job and find a better way to keep the drugs out of the hands of the people who abuse them. I agree with keeping track of the scripts the drs write and the pharmacies who fill them for the people so that no one is able to get more meds from different doctors. But don’t make it impossible for the people who need the meds to get them or so expensive that they can’t get them.

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