Retail giant Walmart adding policy aimed at opioid abuse

Leigh Mccormick
May 11, 2018

All Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies in the US and Puerto Rico will fill new acute opioid prescriptions with no more than a seven-day supply, and will cap the daily dosage at 50 morphine milligram equivalents, the retail giant said in a statement on Monday.

The new rules align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines which suggest "three days or less will often be sufficient" for those prescribed the painkillers, and "more than seven days will rarely be needed".

The new seven-day cap on opioids will be implemented at all U.S. Walmart and Sam's Club stores in the next 60 days, the company said.

Walmart also said that beginning January 1 it would require e-prescriptions, which can not be altered or copied, for controlled substances. This type of prescription has been found to be less prone to human error, since they can't be altered or copied.

The health and safety of our patients is a critical priority; that's why we're taking an active role in the fight against our nation's opioid issue - one that has affected so many families and communities across America. This would mean that the pharmacists would be able to track controlled substances with "real-time interstate visibility".

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It is unclear how Walmart's policy will be enforced, as it does not appear to apply to people seeking treatment for chronic pain or people who have already been prescribed opioids in the past.

Walmart said it offers DisposeRx, a powder for disposing of opioids, free in all of its pharmacies. This would allow patients to dispose off of their unused opioids safely at home.

Walmart did not respond to a local newspaper's request for comment about its return policy at the time.

"The company believes education on prescription drug abuse is a key part of the solution", Walmart said. Each week, over 260 million customers and members visit our more than 11,600 stores under almost 60 banners in 28 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2018 revenue of $500.3 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide.

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