Just after the FDA announced its plan for helping to address the rampant increase in overdoses related to opioid-sedative drug interactions, CVS Pharmacy stores in Massachusetts are changing the way they handle opioid prescriptions.
This comes after a statewide investigation of the company revealed poor prescription filling practices, allotting at-risk patients to access powerful painkillers. This oversight may have contributed to thousands of deaths across New England.
Attorney General Maura Healey, who conducted the investigation, called for a re-evaluation of company policies and practices. CVS Pharmacy stores in Massachusetts have settled an agreement which mandates pharmacists at 350 locations across the state consult the Prescription Monitoring Program before filling opioid prescriptions. The database keeps track of every patient’s opioid prescriptions and will reveal if they have visited multiple doctors or pharmacies in order to attain pain medications.
As the largest chain drug store, CVS Pharmacy stands to help prevent thousands of accidental overdose deaths.
“Pharmacies are on the front lines of this epidemic. They are the gatekeepers for powerful prescription drugs, powerful prescription opioids, that have helped fuel this current crisis,” Healey said.
It is certainly true that the medical industry’s lax policies and loopholes in the pharmaceutical industry has contributed greatly to the increase in overdose deaths caused by opioid misuse and abuse; just a few months ago CVS was fined $3.5 million after it was discovered that their employees filled hundreds of forged prescriptions.
While state law only mandates that doctors, nurses, and other prescription writing professionals must consult the Prescription Monitoring Program, pharmacies are not required by law to do so. In signing the agreement, CVS Pharmacy is creating a legal obligation for it’s Massachusetts pharmacists.
Prior to the agreement CVS Pharmacy employees were found accepting cash payments to fill prescriptions that were rejected by insurances which violates policies. A mass rewriting and retraining of pharmacists with the company is expected to be completed by September 30th.