The National Opioid Epidemic Continues to Escalate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated drug death data shows roughly 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016. Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the CDC will not be able to calculate final numbers for 2016 until December 2017. Early data from 2017 suggests that drug overdose deaths will continue to rise this year. It’s the only aspect of American health, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC, which is getting significantly worse. Over two million Americans are estimated to be dependent on opioids, and an additional 95 million used prescription painkillers in the past year — more than used tobacco.

What’s Being Done to Combat the Opioid Epidemic?

Earlier this month, NBC News reported that the nation’s largest pharmacy chain CVS Health, with over 9,500 retail locations across the country, has taken drastic steps to help combat the opioid epidemic crisis. CVS reported on September 21, 2017 to change its supply limits on all opioids limiting prescriptions to a 7-Day Supply. Their new policy states that when filling prescription for opioid drugs, pharmacists will be required to talk to patients about the risks of addiction, secure storage of medications in the home and proper disposal. With counseling on secure storage and disposal of opioids, the CVS pharmacists may be able to limit easy access to the drugs. Five percent of adults surveyed told the National Institute on Drug Abuse researchers they took opioids without their doctor’s permission, often getting the prescription meds for free from friends or relatives.
CVS will also expand its drug disposal collection program to 1,550 units, with the addition of kiosks at 750 retail pharmacies nationwide, adding to 800 units previously donated to law enforcement. In addition, CVS has pledged to increase its commitment to community health centers by bolstering contributions to medication-assisted treatment programs by $2 million.

Disruption is Needed

The aggressive move to help combat the opioid epidemic will drive change and a long-term solution for those patients’ suffering with chronic pain will need to be quickly assessed and implemented. Regardless of those for or against the move made by CVS the decision will force change and create much needed disruption in the supply chain of opioids in the U.S. marketplace.

How You Can Make a Difference

Prevention begins in the home by educating your family on the opioid epidemic, making sure to follow a doctor’s guidance on prescriptions, and safe disposal of unused prescriptions.  CLICK HERE to read more about how you can make your home safe.  If you have a loved one that needs help, share with them information on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and how over 50 years of research has proven this method to be safe and effective for opioid addiction treatment and recovery.  CLICK HERE to learn more about the steps on how you can help a loved one.

Author: Todd Eury, New Season Director of Business Development and Strategy