Safe Medication Disposal Program Expands in Ohio

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Our new Ohio disposal units were rolled out at a recent event at a CVS Pharmacy in Toledo, which was attended by city officials, including Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz (far left) and Police Chief George Kral (far right).

Our enterprise-wide efforts to help prevent the misuse and abuse of opioids nationwide include making safe disposal options for unused or unwanted medications readily accessible to all of our CVS Pharmacy customers.

That’s why we’re working to expand our safe medication disposal program to more locations nationwide, include, most recently, in Ohio, where we added disposal units in 53 CVS Pharmacy stores in communities across the state, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown.

“When patients leave unused medications, especially opioids, in a medicine cabinet, there is a risk that those medications might be misused or diverted, which is why we have worked to help increase access to and awareness of safe medication disposal options in the communities we serve,” said William Cuffari, R.Ph., and District Leader for CVS Pharmacy. “Providing more options for the proper disposal of unused medications is just one of the ways that CVS Health is working to help combat opioid misuse, in Ohio and across the country.”

This most recent expansion brings the total disposal units in CVS Pharmacy stores in Ohio to 82. Nationwide, we’ve installed more than 1,300 in-store safe medication disposal units, and donated more than 970 units to community organizations like police departments.

We will continue to roll out additional safe medication disposal units across the country through the end of 2019, as part of a commitment announced at the end of last year to help provide more disposal options in our communities. We’ve also partnered with Google Maps to make it easier for consumers to find year-round medication disposal options.

Our safe medication disposal program is just one of many ways we’re working with local communities to help prevent and address prescription misuse. Our Pharmacists Teach program brings CVS pharmacists to schools across the country to talk to students and parents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. More than 500,000 students across the country, including over 19,000 in Ohio, have participated in the program.

We’ve worked with 48 states including Ohio and Washington, DC to increase access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan. Patients can obtain this potentially life-saving medication, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, without an individual prescription in these states.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Fighting the Opioid Epidemic in Human Terms

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The opioid epidemic is affecting people in all walks of life and in every community across the nation. Learn how CVS Health–Aetna is helping to support its members by increasing access to non-opioid pain treatment, reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing, and increasing the use of effective medications to treat opioid use disorder.

Read more about our progress in fight against opioid misuse and abuse.

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Innovative, meaningful solutions to the national opioid epidemic

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Aetna is highlighting National Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 10 to 16) to support our goal of keeping members healthy, which includes our clinical and behavioral health teams working together to combat the opioid epidemic.

Scroll down for an interactive infographic highlighting Aetna’s commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic:

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Aetna Sponsors Third Annual Opioid Forum in DeKalb County

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Larry Johnson, National Association of Counties Chairman of the Large Urban County Caucus, speaking during the recent opioid summit in Georgia.
Larry Johnson, National Association of Counties Chairman of the Large Urban County Caucus, speaking during the recent opioid summit in Georgia.
Frank Ulibarri, Georgia and Gulf States market president, spoke at the event.
Frank Ulibarri, Georgia and Gulf States market president, spoke at the event.

As national efforts continue to combat opioid use disorder (OUD), the Aetna Georgia Markets team is committed to supporting their local community.

These efforts were showcased in the third annual DeKalb County Opioid Summit – where the focus was on ways to help youth and families in the county overcome the challenges of OUD.

Aetna, a CVS Health company, sponsored the May 2 summit. The event highlighted the local impacts of this health issue and Aetna’s commitment to help at the local level. The event featured youth from local high schools, stakeho­­­­lders and community leaders.

This diverse group of stakeholders discussed the opioid epidemic from their perspective, bringing to light the negative aspects they see daily and the opportunities to improve the situation in DeKalb and for the state. Frank Ulibarri, Georgia and Gulf States market president, represented Aetna.

The local impacts of the crisis

In 2013, Antoinette Tuff found herself held hostage as a bookkeeper in a local school in Georgia but was able to disarm the gunman by talking him into surrendering to the police. After that experience, Tuff founded Kids on the Move for Success, which is an organization dedicated to helping children see the positive in life.

“No matter what it looks like today, it will be better tomorrow,” said Huff, who spoke at the summit. “Kids today face so much and are more likely to turn to drugs to feel better or to escape. This epidemic is not in some distant land, it’s in our front yards and we need to deal with it.”

For panelist Robin Elliot, working to solve the abuse of opioids is her life’s mission.

The death of Elliott’s son from a heroin overdose has made her become an advocate in Georgia. Elliott’s organization GA Overdose Prevention has dispensed over 1,000 Narcan kits across Georgia to help those who may experience an overdose. She’s also worked to pass a Georgia law that prohibits any legal action against someone who may have overdosed (from any substance).

Hyancinth Douglas, a juvenile probation supervisor and youth advocate, talked about how teenagers need to find positive support in their teachers, mentors and family members and reach out to them.

“Educate yourself about drugs,” said Douglas. “Try to determine what triggers you, and use your support system to help. There is no shame here.”

In a workshop hosted by CVS Health, two pharmacists outlined the real threat that opioids pose to the community and the entire country.

In a packed classroom, the pharmacists cautioned that adolescents are at an increased risk for addiction since their brains are still developing.

Ulibarri said he was proud to again be a part of this meaningful event.

“We are honored to once again collaborate on the third annual forum of this kind in DeKalb County,” said Ulibarri. “As a fellow Georgian, I’m proud of Aetna’s mission to help people on their path to better health – including the time and resources that have been dedicated to tackling the most-pressing issues facing the communities where we live and work. Working together with DeKalb County and other local stakeholders, we’re able to explore the impact of OUD on our youth and families and to discuss how to best combat it. It is ultimately on all of us to act.”

Aetna is committed to combatting OUD with a multifaceted strategy focused on preventing prescription opioid misuse and addiction, intervening in at-risk behavior, and supporting members with access to treatment for addiction. For more information on our efforts, click here. Similarly, CVS Health has made an enterprise-wide commitment to help address prescription opioid use disorder by designing programs to increase access to safe medication disposal, encourage appropriate utilization, educate patients and communities, expand access to life-saving overdose reversal agents, and support local recovery programs. For more information on those efforts, click here.

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A Lifeline for Members Who Recently Survived an Overdose

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The statistics are staggering: More than 70,000 people died in the U.S. in 2017 from drug overdoses, and emergency department (ED) visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in all parts of the U.S. from July 2016 to September 2017.https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis#one

The lesser-known story is what happens to those who survive an overdose… the individuals who are at highest risk for a subsequent fatal overdose.

The emotional aftereffects of an overdose—guilt, anger and anxiety—are often compounded by the lack of resources and assistance survivors may find upon returning to the responsibilities of daily life.

Aetna’s Guardian Angel program works to close this gap, using claims data to identify members who have recently been admitted to the ED following a non-fatal opioid-related overdose. Once a member is identified, a clinician who specializes in addiction recovery calls the member to connect him or her with evidence-based treatment and provide education on community support and resources.

Guardian Angel Clinical Lead Jeff Balek, LCPC, CADC, focuses on connection and empathy in his outreach to members who have suffered an opioid-related overdose.

Finding a Path to Recovery

“The care delivered in an ED is really focused on ensuring that you remain alive,” said Jeff Balek, LCPC, CADC, clinical team lead for the program, noting that most post-revival ED stays only last about four to six hours. “Patients who survive an overdose then often receive messages from providers asking why they’re harming themselves in this way and urging them to stop. However, they aren’t typically given actionable information about obtaining treatment. Having a near-death experience is incredibly traumatic, and survivors and their families need help.”

That’s where the Guardian Angels come in. Launched in 2018 as a pilot, the program grew out of a call-to-action after Aetna claims data revealed hundreds of ED visits each month related to opioid-related overdoses. Today, this unique program has connected with and helped more than 600 members and their families to find a pathway out of opioid addiction and toward lasting recovery.

“Our data revealed that there were significant gaps in care for many members who had survived an overdose. We noticed patients would be treated in the ED and discharged with minimal ongoing support,” said Daniel Knecht, M.D., vice president of health strategy and innovation for Aetna, a CVS Health company. “We felt this was a critical opportunity to step in with support to help our members heal at a vulnerable time during which they may be most receptive to accepting help.”

Although first responders and ED personnel often use Narcan (naloxone) to reverse an overdose, the antidote is just the first step of a long journey to recovery, Knecht noted. Through the Guardian Angel program, Aetna works with its provider partners to ensure members have access to coordinated, longitudinal care as well.

The program is part of a three-pronged strategy Aetna launched in 2016 to provide better prevention, intervention and support for members struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD). The Angels’ clinical expertise in substance use dependency and the personal connections they make with members differentiate the program.

A Safe Space to Connect

“A key piece of our success is the active outreach Angels do. Often, they make up to eight calls just to be able to connect with the member,” said Jennifer Johnson, senior director of program management, adding that the program has a high engagement rate of around 50 percent. “This program is designed to allow us to build trust and let members know we’re supporting them.”

Guardian Angel Ramona Zarate, LCPC, CADC, shared that she uses her clinical judgment to assess how ready a member is to begin the process of recovery. “Talking about substance use is difficult,” she said. “It’s important to give the person a safe space to discuss their experiences, their fears and their hopes for the future.”

Zarate added that if a member is willing and motivated to get treatment, the Guardian Angels then focus on finding in-network providers who offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT), educating on appropriate alternatives to opioids for pain management and even scheduling provider appointments.

The success of the Guardian Angel program hinges on meeting members where they are in their battle with addiction and readiness for recovery, according to Balek.

“I am interested in establishing a relationship with this person and humanizing his or her experience,” he said. “If someone is in distress, I’m going to be right there to empathize with what’s causing stress. Eventually, we’ll get to the ‘why’ behind the opioid use. And that’s where the real healing can begin.”

The outreaches have helped hundreds of members to be treated with MAT, reconnect with family members, get jobs, live independently and reclaim their lives.

Despite the successes, Balek notes that tremendous progress remains in tackling the stigma people with OUD often face. “When I reach out to someone, my focus is on finding a way to connect with the person behind the label,” he said. “As a society, we need to remember that these are good people who just need a helping hand… and this program will go a long way toward chipping away at this mountain of a problem our country is facing.”

Editor’s note: Aetna’s parent company CVS Health also has made an enterprise-wide commitment to help address prescription OUD by designing programs to increase access to safe medication disposal, encourage appropriate utilization, educate patients and communities, expand access to life-saving overdose reversal agents, and support local recovery programs. For more information, click here.

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Aetna Foundation launches funding initiative to help fight opioid epidemic

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The Aetna Foundation is launching a funding initiative to fight the ongoing opioid epidemic in the U.S. and help communities and states that have been particularly hard hit. Grants totaling $6 million will fund state and local projects with the potential to make a real difference in addressing opioid-related challenges.

North Carolina will be the first state to receive a grant through the Aetna Foundation’s initiative. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will receive $1 million to help fund its “Rural Opioid Overdose Prevention Project.”

“While this is a national health crisis, there is no single solution that can be applied across the country,” said Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., Aetna’s executive vice president and chief medical officer and member of the Aetna Foundation Board of Directors. “These grants will provide important resources to empower local communities to address the unique characteristics of the opioid-related problems they are facing.”

In a survey conducted by Morning Consult, 77 percent of respondents said the role of local communities and community organizations are important in fighting the opioid epidemic. The survey was conducted from Feb. 8 through Feb. 12, 2018, and 2,201 adults participated.

With one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths nationwide, the funding will help provide community-level risk education in five rural counties in North Carolina; distribute naloxone kits to rural, high-risk opioid users; and increase adoption of best practice policies on overdose prevention.

More than 12 million people in the U.S. misuse prescription opioids, according to the most recent data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids in 2016 was five times higher than in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2010, drug overdoses overtook motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of injury death in North Carolina. An average of five people a day died from drug overdoses in North Carolina in 2016, according to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.

“There’s no question that rural communities in North Carolina have been especially hit hard by this epidemic. There are far too many tragic stories of lives being lost and families bearing the burden,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “North Carolina Harm Reduction has been doing excellent work to confront these challenges. I am grateful to Aetna for supporting North Carolina Harm Reduction to save lives in North Carolina communities.”

The Aetna Foundation will be announcing grants to other organizations in additional states over the next several months as part of its mission of Building Healthy Communities by supporting locally-based programs, dynamic partnerships, and proven models that can help accelerate progress everywhere.

“For the first time in our history, our children’s generation is not expected to live as long as our own. That is due in large part to the epidemic of opioid abuse, which presents a clear and present threat to our communities and health care resources,” said Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H, president of the Aetna Foundation and vice president of Community Health for Aetna. “The innovative work that the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition is doing on the ground is promising, and it’s our hope that it can also offer a road map for outreach in other rural communities.”

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Aetna Foundation Announces Latest Grant to Help Battle the Opioid Epidemic: Pennsylvania

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Aetna Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., speaks at the Pennsylvania announcement.
Aetna Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., speaks at the Pennsylvania announcement.

The Aetna Foundation announced the next step in its funding initiative to fight the ongoing opioid epidemic with a $1 million grant to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The grant is part of a $6 million commitment by the Aetna Foundation to combat the epidemic in states hardest hit by the crisis by funding state and local projects with the potential to make a real difference in addressing opioid-related challenges.

In Pennsylvania, the funds will turbo-charge the state’s innovative opioid dashboard, a collaborative project between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh. The dashboard is a comprehensive tool that will:

  • Offer responders across the state new evidence to make key decisions to best change the trajectory of the opioid epidemic.

  • Serve as a cross-sector bridge from experts across academia, the public and private sectors, and government agencies to provide real-time contextualized data.

  • Better facilitate a collaborative response to the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania and save more lives.

The official announcement took place on Tuesday, March 27 at the Capitol Media Center in Harrisburg. The event will include Hal Paz, M.D., Aetna’s executive vice president and chief medical officer and member of the Aetna Foundation Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, M.D. and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Deputy Secretary Ellen DiDomenico, and Donald Burke, M.D., dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

“Solving the opioid crisis will take a collaborative, cross-sector effort. This data dashboard will fuel the work being done in Pennsylvania by bridging the strengths of the private, public and academic sectors to save more lives,” said Dr. Paz. “At Aetna, we’re encouraged by the work of the state of Pennsylvania to build a dashboard that will help inform decision making that will not only serve as a vital tool for Pennsylvanians, but can be replicated in other states deeply impacted by this epidemic.”

For more information on the announcement, visit the Department of Health media site.

In the United States, more than 42,000 individuals die every year from overdoses. That’s 116 people per day. In Pennsylvania alone, opioids claimed more than 27 lives for every 100,000 individuals in 2017. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has declared a statewide emergency, a declaration that accelerates access to information, including allowing the Commonwealth to collect more data on overdoses, neonatal abstinence syndrome and opioid prescriptions.

The grants complement Aetna’s efforts to fight the opioid crisis through integrated pharmacy, behavioral health and medical programs.

The Pennsylvania grant follows the initial grant which benefitted the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and its “Rural Opioid Overdose Prevention Project.”

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CVS Pharmacy Completes Rollout of Time Delay Safes in All of Its Minnesota Pharmacies

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New safes for controlled substances anticipated to help reduce robbery incidents

All 140 CVS Pharmacy locations in Minnesota area now using time-delay safe technology

WOONSOCKET, R.I., May 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), announced today that it has completed the rollout of time delay safes in all of its 140 CVS Pharmacy locations in Minnesota, including in Target stores. The safes are anticipated to help prevent pharmacy robberies and the diversion of controlled substance narcotic medications by keeping them out of the hands of unauthorized individuals. In addition, the safes are anticipated to help CVS Pharmacy ensure the safety and well-being of its customers and employees.

CVS Pharmacy anticipates these time delay safes helping to deter pharmacy robberies including those involving opioid medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone by electronically delaying the time it takes for pharmacy employees to be able to open the safe. CVS Pharmacy first implemented time delay safes in Indianapolis, a city experiencing a high volume of pharmacy robberies, in 2015. The company saw a 70 percent decline in pharmacy robberies among the Indianapolis stores where the time delay safes had been installed.

"Pharmacy robberies are a challenging issue for every pharmacy and we are committed to doing all we can to reduce the number of incidents in our Minnesota stores," said Ashlee Slocum, District Leader, CVS Pharmacy during an event today with a delegation of Minnesota officials at a CVS Pharmacy in St. Paul. "We have seen that time delay safes, combined with other security policies and procedures in place at our stores, can greatly reduce these incidents and are pleased to roll out this enhanced security measure. These safes will help ensure that our pharmacies remain a safe environment for our patients and colleagues."

The time delay function cannot be overridden and is designed to serve as a deterrent to would-be pharmacy robbers whose goal is to enter and exit their robbery targets as quickly as possible. All CVS Pharmacy locations with time delay safes display visible signage warning that time delay safes are in use to prevent on-demand access to controlled substance narcotics.

"Abuse of prescription painkillers and other medication is a significant crime factor in Ramsey County. From time to time, pharmacies are targeted," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. "The use of smart technology, like that being displayed today, to help prevent thefts, burglaries and robberies enhances the safety of us all."

The implementation of time delay safes across all CVS Pharmacy locations in Minnesota is among numerous measures that the company has put in place to help combat the misuse of prescription drugs in the state. CVS Pharmacy's commitment extends to community education, efforts to encourage safe disposal of unused medication and increasing access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

The company's Pharmacists Teach program brings CVS pharmacists to schools across the country to talk to students and parents about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, using a curriculum developed with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. More than 490,000 students and parents across the country, including 1,200 in Minnesota, have participated in the program.

CVS Pharmacy has also completed installation of six safe medication disposal units in CVS Pharmacy stores in Minnesota. These units are in addition to the 15 units the company has donated to Minnesota law enforcement agencies. Nationwide, 1,029 safe medication disposal units have been installed in CVS Pharmacy locations, adding to the 950 units the company has donated to law enforcement agencies. Through this effort, the company has collected more than 791,000 pounds, or 359 metric tons of unwanted medication, including more than 11,000 pounds, or more than 5 metric tons in Minnesota alone. Increasing community access to safe medication disposal helps rid homes of unused medications that might otherwise have been diverted, misused or ended up in our water supply.

Additionally, CVS Pharmacy has worked with 48 states including Minnesota and Washington, DC to increase access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan. Today, all CVS Pharmacy locations have in-store signage to inform patients about the availability and accessibility of the potentially life-saving drug.

About CVS Pharmacy

CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), is America's leading retail pharmacy with over 9,800 locations. It is the first national pharmacy to end the sale of tobacco and the first pharmacy in the nation to receive the Community Pharmacy accreditation from URAC, the leading health care accreditation organization that establishes quality standards for the health care industry. CVS Pharmacy is reinventing pharmacy to help people on their path to better health by providing the most accessible and personalized expertise, both in its stores and online at CVS.com. General information about CVS Pharmacy is available at http://www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contacts:

Joe Goode
(401) 770-9820
Joseph.Goode@cvshealth.com

Brent Burkhardt
(410) 299-2528
bburkhardt@tbc.us

SOURCE CVS Pharmacy

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We All Have a Role to Play in Safe Medication Disposal

We All Have a Role to Play in Safe Medication Disposal
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This article was authored by Tom Davis, R.Ph., vice president of professional services for CVS Health.

I know too well the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse for individuals and families. That’s one reason I am proud of the work we do every day at CVS Health to help combat opioid misuse as part of our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.

Too often medicines that were once needed go unused and are left in the home where they might be diverted and misused. In fact, medicine cabinets are a major source of diverted prescription opioids,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30849719 which is why it is important for individuals to be aware of the safe medication disposal options available in their communities.

Supporting Medication Disposal Locally

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a good reminder of the importance of disposing of unused and unwanted medications. In addition to select CVS Pharmacy locations serving as sites for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s take-back events across 27 states, CVS Pharmacy is helping to provide options where consumers can conveniently locate and access safe disposal locations year round.

Every day, consumers can dispose of unused or unwanted medicines at CVS Pharmacy stores and community locations across the country. We have installed safe medication disposal units to make disposal options more accessible in more than 1,000 CVS Pharmacy locations and have donated 950 additional units to community locations such as police departments.

Together, these units have collected more than 324 metric tons, or 715,000 pounds, of unused or unwanted medications that might otherwise have been diverted, misused or ended up in our water supply. That amounts to the approximate weight of a 747 jetliner. An additional 900 safe medication disposal units are planned to roll out in CVS Pharmacy stores in states across the country by the end of 2019.

Through our partnership with Google Maps, consumers can quickly search “drug drop off near me” in Google to locate permanent disposal locations in their community, such as a CVS Pharmacy or government buildings.

A Multifaceted Approach to Helping Combat Opioid Misuse

Our safe medication disposal program is just one part of our multi-pronged strategy to help prevent opioid misuse. As one of the 30,000 pharmacists at CVS Health, I am especially passionate about helping people understand the risks of prescription drug misuse. 

One example of how our pharmacists are doing just that is Pharmacists Teach. An innovative prevention education program, Pharmacists Teach connects our pharmacists to local schools to talk with students and parents about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, using a curriculum developed with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. We have reached nearly 475,000 students and parents nationwide through the program.

In addition, our pharmacists also provide counseling to patients who are new to an opioid prescription. In line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline, this counseling educates patients on use, risks, storage and disposal at an important point in time, before they start on their medication.

Reducing the amount of unnecessary opioids prescribed can also help reduce the potential for misuse. To that end, CVS Health is implementing utilization strategies to help.  

  • In line with the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, we have implemented programs to help pharmacy benefit management clients reduce opioid utilization for Caremark members. To date, for clients adopting our utilization management criteria, the number of prescriptions covered for more than a 7-day supply decreased by 71.9 percent. Among those clients, the number of prescriptions covered for a 7-day supply or less is now 94.3 percent.

  • Aetna, a CVS Health business unit, is making progress in its five-year plan to help fight opioid misuse through prevention, intervention and patient support programming. In the first year of its strategy, Aetna has seen an approximately 60 percent increase in the rate of treatment with non-opioid interventions in members with chronic pain. The rate of opioid prescriptions written for seven or more days after an acute procedure decreased about 50 percent.

We’re making real progress in our efforts to help combat the misuse of prescription drugs, through our own programs and by collaborating in the community. And together, we’ll continue our work to help make a difference in building safer, healthier communities.

For more information about our efforts in the fight against opioid abuse, visit Our Commitment to Fight Opioid Abuse and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

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Our Opioid Response Strategy

Our Opioid Response Strategy
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Our expansive reach, expertise and access to local communities has uniquely positioned us to help address prescription misuse and abuse with an enterprise-wide approach. In 2018, we continued to expand our efforts through a variety of programs and initiatives, including education, safe prescription drug disposal, advocacy and collaboration with partners. 

To learn more about our efforts to address opioid misuse and abuse, read our 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report or visit Our Opioid Response.

Our Community Commitments

Through our company and the CVS Health and Aetna Foundations, we make strategic investments to support health care access in local communities, including work to mitigate and prevent prescription drug abuse.

Our community-level work in 2018 included:

  • Continued partnership between CVS Health Foundation and the National Association of Community Health Centers to provide grants to 12 additional community health centers

  • Extension of our philanthropic efforts through the Aetna Foundation, which provides state and community-based grants to address opioid abuse nationally.

  • Expansion of our Pharmacists Teach prevention education program to provide curriculum to CVS Caremark members and to reach parents in 26 new states.

Patient- and Member-Focused Prevention

Our opioid abuse prevention efforts reached patients and members in 2018 through:

  • The implementation of enhanced opioid utilization management for our CVS Caremark clients, who represent 94 million member lives.
  • Strengthened counseling for CVS Pharmacy patients filling their first opioid prescription, and new training for retail pharmacists on medication assisted treatment (MAT), so that they are able to provide the best care for patients struggling with opioid-use disorder.
  • Expansion of our safe medication disposal program, adding 750 units in CVS Pharmacy locations and continued work with The Partnership™ at Drugfree.org to make drug collection units available to law enforcement agencies.
  • Plans to expand Aetna’s 2018 pilot program, “Guardian Angel,” which provides Aetna members who recently experienced an opioid overdose with support from a clinician, specializing in substance use disorders.

Continuing Our Best-In-Class Governance and Our Public Policy Work

Overseeing our opioid-related efforts is our Board of Directors, which is committed to ensuring that we are developing solutions to prescription opioid abuse. And within our Board of Directors, our Medical Affairs Committee is taking on a broader scope of responsibilities, including matters related to opioid safety.

We are also working to make a difference in our communities by advocating for legislation that addresses opioid misuse and abuse. Across the country, we’re collaborating with community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement and health care professionals to expand opioid education, encourage safe prescription drug disposal and advocate for new policies that tackle this public health challenge. We’ve also advocated to be able to offer access to naloxone, the lifesaving opioid overdose-reversal drug, without a prescription to CVS Pharmacy patients in 48 states. 

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