Walmart to restrict opioid prescriptions at its pharmacies

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The change will come into effect within the next 60 days, and will apply to all Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies in the US and Puerto Rico.

The company said the new measures are part of the Walmart Opioid Stewardship Initiative, which includes DisposeRx, a program that helps patients dispose their leftover medications in trash at home.

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Sources reveal that pharmacies, beginning 1January 2020, will be restricting the dosage of opioids to not more than 50 MMEs (morphine milligrams equivalent) per day and will require online prescriptions for controlled substances.

Walmart announced on Monday that within 60 days, it will only fill first-time acute opioid prescriptions for seven days or less nationwide. The company says e-prescriptions can't be altered or copied and are less prone to errors.

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The new measures are an extension of Walmart's efforts to fight the USA opioid epidemic.

Walmart is tightening its opioid prescription policies. In addition, where allowed by state law, pharmacies will have naloxone behind the counter and ready to dispense upon request. They will complete a pain management curriculum by the end of August. This was partially fueled by the fact that some users may not realize that they are taking synthetic opioids. Patients with chronic Class II opioid prescriptions are offered a free DisposeRx packet every six months. Additionally, Sam's Club patients can access Dispose Rx at their pharmacies. These guidelines suggest that clinicians should prescribe the "lowest effective dose" of opioids to treat pain, as its abuse often stems from such treatment. "These changes will not only help us decrease the number of prescription opioids that make it to the street, but will help us crack down on fraudulent prescriptions". These programs are educational tools that empower students with information and skills to address the opioid epidemic, should they face it in their community.

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What Other Pharmacies Will Follow Walmart's Lead?