Walmart is cracking down on opioid use by toughening their opioid policy. This is believed to be the first of several changes consumers will begin seeing in pharmacies across the country. The change in policy could force patients to look deeper into treating the source of their pain. This means they will need to stop treating symptoms and focus instead on the origin of the pain.
The new policy limits the duration of opioid prescriptions. It also requires that such prescriptions be filled electronically. Walmart plans to have the policy in place no later than early July 2018. At that time they will only fill acute opioid prescriptions for seven days or less for first-time requests. Dosage is also limited under the new plan with limits set at 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) per day. Pharmacists will use the CDC’s MME conversion guides to determine the correct dosage for each prescribed opioid. The planned change will take place nationwide at more than 5,300 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
What Prompted the Change?
The implementation of the new restrictions are based upon recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendations come after the results of a study showed individuals prescribed opioid therapy for as little as one day had a six percent chance of addiction one year later. Individuals prescribed more than seven days of opioid therapy have a 13.5 percent chance of addiction after one year. Patients prescribed higher dosages of opioids were significantly more likely to die due to an overdose.
While opioid use is effective for treating many symptoms, the risk of addiction and overdose is clear. Patients are now urged to stop treating symptoms and instead find the cause of their pain. Treating the cause of the pain is a long term solution for pain management.
Some states limit opioid prescriptions to no longer than seven days. In states with a cap of less than one week, Walmart and Sam’s Club will follow state law. In an ongoing effort to prevent prescription fraud and reduce errors, the company will require electronic prescriptions for all controlled substances beginning in the year 2020. All of these changes are part of the effort against the current US opioid epidemic.
Other Changes to Policy
Earlier this year in January 2018 Walmart introduced a safe way to destroy leftover opioids. According to CNN:
DisposeRX is a powder that, when combined with water and the pills, creates a gel that is difficult to remove from its container. The mixture can be thrown out at home or left at a drop off location. The company said on Monday that it will make DisposeRx available online.
Plus, Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacists will continue to recommend the overdose reversal drug naloxone, which is available over the counter in some states, to customers who may be at risk of an overdose. They will complete a pain management curriculum by the end of August.
Walmart isn’t alone in its efforts. Other companies such as Aetna have started waiving co-pays for Narcan, a brand of the naloxone nasal spray. They also began limiting first-time opioid prescriptions to a duration of seven days in January of 2018. CVS Caremark also began capping first-time prescriptions at the seven day limit back in February 2018. Even pharmaceutical companies are getting involved in the war against opioid addiction. Purdue Pharma, who makes OxyContin, announced in February they will stop promoting OxyContin to doctors due to its addictive nature.
Stop Treating Symptoms and Start Treating the Cause
In March, a CDC announcement advised that more than 63,000 Americans died as a result of drug overdose in the year 2016. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths involved either prescription or illegal opioids. These drugs are highly addictive and impact thousands and thousands of Americans each year. Companies are coming together to fight the overuse and addiction of these opioids. However, individuals must also play a part in this war against opioid addiction.
When it comes to pain management, many individuals want fast relief. This is something that many pain killers, such as opioids, provide. They do this by binding to opioid receptors in the spinal cord, brain, and throughout the body. The opioids then reduce the sending of pain messages which reduce the feeling of pain. They’re often used to treat pain that doesn’t respond well to other medications. While the patient may no longer feel the pain associated with their condition, that doesn’t mean they’re cured.
A better treatment option can be found when the patient decides to stop treating symptoms and start treating the cause. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine the cause of pain at times. We now know that many causes of pain can be traced back to the spine.
Honing in on Pain to Treat the Cause and Stop Treating Symptoms
The spine is complex. It’s a super highway of nerves that reach every part of your body. When something isn’t right the affected individual may experience pain anywhere. This makes diagnosing the pain difficult for professionals who don’t understand the complexities of the spine.
At Freedom Health Centers we have a thorough understanding of the human body. Our comprehension of the spine and referred pain allow us to find the cause of most cases of pain. We then work with patients to develop a treatment plan that focuses on a long term solution. We focus on treating the cause of the pain to give you a better chance of a pain free life.
Using a number of treatment methods, we help many people rid themselves of pain on a more permanent level. The best part is that we do this without the risk of dangerous opioids and other medications. Our focus is on your body’s overall health. Our goal is to help you be the best version of yourself and retake control over your life. Give us a call to find out more on how we can help you overcome your pain without the risk of addiction.