Taking Steps to Address Opioid Misuse and Abuse

Too many people have been impacted by opioid abuse. CVS Health serves patients in communities all across the country, and we are dedicated to helping make a difference.

We have made an enterprise-wide commitment to help address the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids by designing programs that increase access to safe medication disposal, encourage appropriate utilization, educate patients at the pharmacy and teens and parents in communities, expand access to life-saving antidotes, and support local recovery programs.

Increasing Access to Safe Disposal

Disposal of unwanted or unused medications locally reduces the likelihood of misuse or diversion. Through our in-store efforts, we increased access to safe medication disposal sites, completing installation of 1,000 disposal units in CVS Pharmacy locations. Combined with more than 950 units donated to local law enforcement, we have facilitated placement of nearly 2,000 units nationwide. In total, these units have collected more than 715,000 pounds of unwanted medication.

Encouraging Appropriate Utilization              

Reducing the amount of unnecessary opioids prescribed can help reduce the potential for abuse. CVS Caremark has implemented criteria to help adopting clients manage opioid utilization in a manner consistent with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guideline. For clients adopting this utilization management criteria, the number of prescriptions covered for more than a 7-day supply decreased by 71.9 percent. Among those clients, the number of prescriptions covered for a 7-day supply or less is now 94.3 percent. 

Expanding Access to Life-Saving Antidotes

The opioid overdose-reversal drug, naloxone, can help save lives. CVS Pharmacy has implemented an industry-leading program to increase access to naloxone in 48 states, where patients do not require an individual prescription. Following the Surgeon General's Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose in April 2018, we have further expanded our efforts to educate patients about naloxone. Today, all CVS Pharmacy locations have in-store signage to educate patients about the availability and accessibility of the life-saving drug.

Educating Patients and Communities

For retail pharmacy patients new to an opioid prescription, our pharmacist-led patient counseling provides guidance on safe opioid use and the dangers of addiction. In communities nationwide, our pharmacists educate on use, risks, storage and disposal in line with the CDC Guideline.

This counseling builds on our own pharmacist-led prevention education program, Pharmacists Teach, which has educated more than 470,000 teens and parents on the dangers of teens misusing prescription drugs since 2015.

Supporting Local Recovery Programs

CVS Health is supporting local recovery programs to improve access to recovery and treatment options in local communities. The program will reach nearly 350,000 patients and support 115 physicians working to increase access to medication assisted treatment. 

For more information about our efforts in the fight against opioid abuse, visit Our Commitment to Fight Opioid Abuse and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

04.23.19
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