Skip to main content

Expanded Opioid Response Builds on Past Efforts

September 21, 2017 | Pharmacy

Opioid abuse is a national epidemic that doesn’t discriminate, claiming the lives of the young, the old, the rich and the poor. Deaths related to opioid use continue to skyrocket, quadrupling from 1999 to 2015.

To help find solutions to this public health crisis, CVS Health is launching an enterprise-wide effort to reduce opioid misuse and abuse that includes expanding our drug disposal collection program to 1,550 units with the addition of 750 in-store medication disposal units at CVS Pharmacy locations, a strengthened and more robust counseling program for new opioid prescriptions and enhanced utilization guidelines to ensure that opioids are being prescribed and used appropriately. These commitments build on years of innovative programs to encourage safe medication disposal, educate students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and increase access to naloxone. These include:

Keeping Medications Out of the Wrong Hands

We created the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program to prevent medications from being diverted from those with a legitimate prescription. This program allows police departments to apply for a no-cost drug collection unit to help their communities safely discard unwanted medications, including controlled substances. Since 2014, we have donated more than 800 drug collection units to police departments across the country, and to date, the program has collected more than 100 metric tons of prescription drugs over the past two years

Expanding Treatment Options

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, offers people a second chance at seeking the treatment they need. This lifesaving drug that blocks opioid receptor sites to reverse the effects of an overdose. Over the past two years, CVS Health has worked to expand access to naloxone without individual prescriptions in 46 states.

Preventing Abuse through Education

Our Pharmacists Teach program gives teens the facts about prescription drug misuse and abuse. Our pharmacists visit high schools to deliver a powerful presentation that includes stories of real young men and women whose lives were forever changed by their choice to abuse prescription painkillers.

Employing Strategies from Our PBM

CVS Caremark, our pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) has made major investments in technology and training to ensure that patients receive the right drug at the right time. Teams review each prescription to ensure that prescriptions are safe and appropriately prescribed before they are dispensed. This is done using point-of-service prescriber and patient verifications, as well as drug utilization reviews at mail and retail pharmacy locations. PBM teams also maintain a regular dialogue with prescribers and members, and follow national clinical guidelines to identify situations that may contribute to prescription misuse or abuse.

Our expanded initiatives to prevent opioid abuse builds on these ongoing efforts, and includes strengthened counseling for patients filling an opioid prescription with a robust safe opioid use education program, increased medication disposal options and enhanced utilization review. Learn more about our opioid abuse prevention and mitigation strategies.

For more information about the opioid abuse crisis, visit our Prescription Drug Abuse information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.