CVS Pharmacies making changes to combat opioid abuse

CVS to follow federal guidelines for opioid prescriptions

CVS to implement changes to how opioids are dispensed

That difference will include mandating that a single patient cannot be prescribed more than a seven-day supply of opioid medications at any one time, limiting the daily dosage a patient can be prescribed and requiring pharmacists to prioritize immediate-release formulas over extended-release counterparts.

The CDC reported patients received a 13-day average pill supply in 2006; that number skyrocketed to 18 days in 2015.

CVS also announced a donation of $2 million for federally-backed community health centers providing medication-assisted addiction treatment and is expanding their "Pharmacists Teach Program" to educate parents and their children about the dangers of opioid addiction.

The largest pharmacy chain in the enacting strict restrictions on patient supplies for opioid painkillers in an effort to curb addiction rates amid record drug deaths.

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The CVS limit aims to stop a growing opioid epidemic across the country, including in Pennsylvania.

Beginning Feb. 1, CVS will roll out new controls to reduce opioid abuse, including counseling at the pick-up counter.

CVS and other health care companies have been accused of helping fuel the addiction crisis through their handling of opioid painkillers; CVS past year paid $3.5M to settle federal allegations that 50 of its pharmacies in New England filled forged prescriptions for painkillers.

Increasingly, heroin and the illicit use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl are responsible for fatal opioid overdoses, but many cases of addiction begin with prescription painkillers.

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CVS will also be expanding its medication disposal units, adding 750 "drug take-back" kiosks in its pharmacies.

Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS, said the initiatives respond to a uniquely American problem.

CVS manages medications for almost 90 million customers at 9,700 retail locations.

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