The opioid addiction rate has now become a national emergency — and one of the leading pharmacies in the U.S. has joined the fight to end it.
On Thursday, CVS announced that it would limit prescriptions to a 7-day supply as part of a fight to end the national opioid crisis. In doing so, it would help to restrict the amount of painkillers that doctors can give their patients.
"As America’s front door to health care with a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse," Larry J. Merlo, the president and CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement.
"Today we are announcing an expansion of our enterprise initiatives to fight the opioid abuse epidemic that leverages CVS Pharmacy’s national presence with the capabilities of CVS Caremark, which manages medications for nearly 90 million plan members."
A report from earlier this year found that the already-staggering rate of opioid addiction is only continuing to climb. The epidemic, as it turns out, has affected teenagers in large numbers. According to another report published by the CDC last month, the rate of teenage drug-overdose deaths have more than doubled between 1999 and 2015 — and again, experts say that the number is only predicted to rise.
CVS is the first major pharmacy to limit opioid prescriptions. The company intends to cap daily dosages and initially requiring patients to obtain short-term pain relief drugs instead of long-term relief.
"Without a doubt, addressing our nation’s opioid crisis calls for a multi-pronged effort involving many health care stakeholders, from doctors, dentists and pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies and government officials," Merlo said. "With this expansion of our industry-leading initiatives, we are further strengthening our commitment to help providers and patients balance the need for these powerful medications with the risk of abuse and misuse."
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