CVS Fights Back Against Opioid Epidemic


(Graphic Courtesy of CVS Health)

By Robert Barrett, Jr., Copy Editor

The Opioid Epidemic is something that may be all too familiar to Ohioans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that within the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in overdoses and overdose deaths across the United States and Canada. Thursday, CVS Health furthered their initiative to fight the epidemic.

The national pharmacy was the first to limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for certain conditions. This decision came as a response to combat the epidemic, especially the increased usage and prescribing of opioids, CVS said in their press release.  A report from the CDC concluded that doctors have increased average pill supply from 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015.

CVS is also expanding their drug disposal program. Their press release states that CVS is now adding an additional 750 kiosks at retail pharmacies; they had previously donated 800 drug disposal kiosks to law enforcement.

In all of those communities, CVS Health is dedicated to helping address and prevent opioid abuse and misuse. The expanded initiatives we are announcing build on years of innovative programs to encourage safe medication disposal, utilize pharmacists to educate students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and increase access to naloxone,” CVS Health spokesperson, Erin Britt, said.

“As America’s front door to healthcare 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, president and CEO of CVS Health, said.

@CVSHealth responded on Twitter to those who need medication for chronic pain and said: “Please note: limits for acute uses do not apply to chronic pain. Our 7-day limit is specific to new prescriptions for acute issues.

The opioid epidemic has had a greater effect on Ohioans than other states. According to the CDC, as of 2015, Ohio ranked in the top tier of overdoses.

(Graphic courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Furthermore, Summit and Cuyahoga counties also have had high rates of overdose deaths. The chart below shows the average unintentional drug overdose death rate per 100,000 population, by county from 2011 to 2016.

(Graphic courtesy of the Ohio Department of Health)

Perhaps CVS’s increased efforts can help mitigate the opioid epidemic and reduce the number of fatal overdoses. The CDC reports that deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled since 1999 and currently, an average of  91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

CVS will roll out the new policy on Feb. 1, 2018. For more info about the epidemic, please click HERE.