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Walmart Limits Opioid Prescriptions to Help Curb Misuse

Retailer plans to restrict initial supply and dose size of pain pills

A customer walks past the pharmacy during the grand opening of a new Wal-Mart Stores Inc

Walmart is taking more aggressive measures to limit opioid prescription abuse.

Vowing to help curb addiction to pain pills, Walmart and its Sam’s Club pharmacies will restrict initial opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply with a daily maximum equivalent of 50 morphine milligrams. The restrictions will take effect within 60 days.

“We are proud to implement these policies and initiatives as we work to create solutions that address this critical issue facing the patients and communities we serve,” Marybeth Hays, a Walmart executive vice president, said in a prepared statement. The company said the limits are consistent with guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walmart and Sam’s Club promised to follow state laws where they restrict new acute opioid prescriptions to fewer than seven days. And as of January 1, 2020, they will require electronic prescriptions for controlled substances because they can be more easily tracked, are harder to copy and are not as vulnerable to errors or alterations.

Walmart also promised additional training for pharmacists on how to help patients manage their pain.

The company already provides patients with a free DisposeRx packet along with opioid safety information on how to destroy leftover opioids. Walmart said its pharmacists are using federal guidelines to counsel patients about how to use the lowest effective dose in the shortest possible time.

The measures are intended to counter widespread addiction to opioids, which were misused by an estimated 11.5 million people in 2016.   

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