In a bid to help curb the opioid epidemic plaguing the nation, Walmart unveiled new restrictions on drug prescriptions at its locations. Under the new rules, all prescriptions will be filled digitally, and the duration of the prescriptions will be greatly limited.
On Monday, the retailer said it would cut acute opioid prescriptions to seven days and lower the Morphine Milligram Equivalents (MME) for these opioids. MMEs are guides that enable pharmacists to give the right dosage for each opioid.
Walmart has more than 5,000 locations.
The new limitations are a response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendations. CDC researchers recently found that people who take opioids for at least a day have a 6% higher risk of becoming addicted. The people who take the drugs for eight days or more have a 13.5% higher risk of getting hooked.
CDC also reported that patients who take larger doses of the drugs have a higher risk of being killed by an overdose.
Walmart Poised to Fight Off the Opioid Epidemic
In some states, the duration of opioid prescriptions is already limited to up to seven days. Walmart announced that it will comply with local laws in states that set the duration to less than seven days.
Starting 2020, the retailer will require all prescriptions for controlled substances to be filed electronically. The company thinks that a digital system would prevent errors and fraud.
It is not the first time the U.S. retail giant takes measures to help fix the nation’s opioid epidemic. In January, the company unveiled a safer way of getting rid of unused opioids at home. Walmart encouraged opioid users to pour a mixture of water and a powder called DisposeRx in the containers of leftover drugs to make it impossible to remove the drugs from the containers.
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