Making Progress in the Fight Against Opioid Misuse and Abuse

Virtually no part of our country has remained unaffected by the opioid crisis. CVS Health has made an enterprise-wide commitment to help address the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids by designing programs to increase access to safe medication disposal, encourage appropriate utilization, educate patients at the pharmacy and teens and parents in communities, expand access to life-saving antidotes, and support local recovery programs.

An infographic featuring programs that address the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids

Increasing Access to Safe Disposal

Providing a safe way to dispose of unwanted or unused medications close to home reduces the likelihood of misuse. Through our in-store efforts, we increased access to safe medication disposal sites, completing installation of 750 safe medication disposal units in CVS Pharmacy locations. Combined with the more than 900 units donated to local law enforcement, we have facilitated placement of more than 1,650 units nationwide. In total, these units have collected more than 436,000 pounds, or 198 metric tons, of unwanted medication.

Encouraging Appropriate Utilization

Reducing the amount of unnecessary opioids decreases drug diversion and the potential for abuse. CVS Caremark has implemented criteria to help adopting clients manage opioid utilization in a manner consistent with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guideline. For clients adopting this utilization management criteria, the number of prescriptions covered for more than a 7-day supply decreased by 71.9%. Among those clients, the number of prescriptions covered for a 7-day supply or less is now 94.3%. 

Expanding Access to Life-Saving Antidotes

The opioid overdose-reversal drug, naloxone, is key to addressing opioid abuse locally. CVS Pharmacy has implemented an industry-leading program to increase access to naloxone in 48 states, where patients do not require an individual prescription. Following the Surgeon General's Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose in April 2018, we have further expanded our efforts to educate patients about naloxone. Today, all CVS Pharmacy locations have in-store signage and in-store radio messages to educate patients about the availability and accessibility of the life-saving drug.

Educating Patients and Communities

Providing guidance to retail pharmacy patients new to an opioid prescription, our pharmacist-led patient counseling has educated nearly three million patients on safe opioid use and the dangers of addiction over the past five months. In communities nationwide, our pharmacists educate on use, risks, storage and disposal in line with the CDC Guideline.

These most recent enterprise efforts build on our existing initiatives, including our own pharmacist-led prevention education program, Pharmacists Teach, which has educated more than 400,000 teens and parents on the dangers of teens misusing prescription drugs since 2015.

Supporting Local Recovery Programs

CVS Health is also enhancing its commitment to supporting addiction recovery programs, providing grants to 21 community health centers across the U.S. that deliver medication-assisted treatment and other addiction recovery services. The program will reach nearly 350,000 patients and support 115 physicians working to increase access to medication assisted treatment. 

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.