On September 21st, 2017 CVS announced that it would be expanding its company-wide initiatives on helping to combat the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the United States for the better part of the past 5 years. The company revealed that as part of its corporate commitment to help America deal with the onslaught of issues that opioid medications, such as Oxycontin, has produced, it would be adding an additional 750 drug disposal kiosks in stores nationwide, that CVS Caremark would begin implementing a 7 day limit on opioid prescriptions for those who are just starting care with opioids, and that they would be adding $2 million dollars to their previous investment in helping to fight the opioid issue in this country.
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Drug Disposal Kiosks
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The first part of the company’s plan, to introduce an additional 750 drug disposal kiosks, making the total number of stores with disposal kiosks 1,550 nationwide, speaks to a largely unrecognized issue with the opioids epidemic—the abuse and illegal drug trade of leftover prescriptions. Many times when people think of opioids they think of people either doctor shopping in order to get the substance, or just simply people buying these substances from illicit dealers, but often times an individual will be introduced to the drugs by looking in their parents or other loved ones’ cabinets. These kiosks are designed to help stop this, by allowing individual’s who were prescribed opioids legally, but no longer need the prescription, to dispose of their leftover pills in a safe manner. By doing this it ensures that the drugs do not fall into the wrong hands, as these kiosks are authorized by the DEA and strict controls are placed on them.
7-Day Limit on Opioid Prescriptions
An issue that has been identified in the propagation of the opioid epidemic was and still is over-prescribing by doctors throughout the country. While this practice has been greatly curtailed over the past few years, as more focus has been placed on the opioid problem, there is still a problem with over-prescribing of these powerful medications. Many times individuals, who go to the ER for a pain or visit the dentist due to an issue with their tooth, will leave the office with a prescription for 2 weeks to 30 days of Oxycodone. While this commonplace practice seemed to be rather benign, what actually was occurring is that individuals were becoming addicted to these drugs before they even knew what hit them.
This coupled with the fact that many patients did not use all of their prescription and so lying in medicine cabinets throughout the country were millions of unused Oxycodone and Oxycontin pills, that either made their way into low-level street dealers pockets or family members bodies, and you can see why there has been a discussion as of late about limiting the initial prescription of opioids for first time patients.
By taking the initiative of limiting prescriptions to 7 days, CVS is standing on the side of reason, by saying that no one needs more than a 7 day supply in the beginning. This is not to say that CVS is turning its back on those who suffer from chronic pain, but rather they are hoping to limit people’s exposure to these powerful and addictive substances and to create more transparency between the healthcare provider and patients.
The company has also stated that they are offering better counseling for those people who are picking up opioid prescriptions at one of their thousands of locations throughout the United States. Their hopes is that by allowing individuals the ability to discuss what is going on with them or to discuss alternatives to opioid medication, they will be able to save people from falling into addiction.
CVS Health Foundation’s $2 Million Pledge to Opioid Crisis
Money is never the totality of an answer for a social problem such as drug addiction and by including an increase in donations with other socially responsible actions; CVS is providing a viable blueprint for how corporations should help in fighting the opioid epidemic in this country.
This money that they are allotting is to be used to support Community Health Centers and to provide addiction recovery services to thousands of individuals throughout the country. Not to mention that CVS Health is also making a commitment to expand access to the life-saving drug Naloxone in 43 States. Naloxone is a drug that many people were unaware of until recently and first responders use it in order to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. Until recently the drug had to be administered by a trained medical professional, which resulted in the needless death of many addicts. However, with the political climate becoming more sympathetic to the plight of the addict, the drug has become more widely available, and individual citizen’s ability to administer the drug has been made easier.
It appears that CVS really has its corporate heart in the right place with these initiatives, just as they stopped selling cigarettes over 3 years ago because they realized that they could not offer healthcare and a cause for health concern in the same space. Hopefully, more corporations who have profited off of the opioid epidemic do the same and begin to put people before profits, so we can all fight together to bring an end to the opioid problem once and for all.
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