To help prevent opioid abuse and misuse, Walmart will restrict prescriptions and require electronic prescribing for controlled-substance medications at its stores with pharmacies.
Plans call for Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies, within the next 60 days, to begin limiting initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply, capping the maximum per day at up to a 50-milligram morphine equivalent.
That policy is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for opioid use, the retailer said, adding that Walmart and Sam’s Club will follow state law where fills on new acute opioid prescriptions are restricted to less than seven days.
Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Walmart and Sam’s Club will only accept e-prescriptions for controlled substances. The company noted that e-prescriptions are less prone to errors, can’t be altered or copied, and can be tracked electronically.
Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies, too, will get more insight into controlled substance prescribing. In states that allow access, the retailer’s pharmacists will have access to NarxCare, a tracking tool that helps pharmacy staff make dispensing decisions and provides real-time visibility into opioid prescribing across states.
The company said these new initiatives apply to all Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies and pharmacists in the United States and Puerto Rico.
“We are taking action in the fight against the nation’s opioid epidemic,” Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of health and wellness and consumables at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We are proud to implement these policies and initiatives as we work to create solutions that address this critical issue facing the patients and communities we serve.”
In other new efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, Walmart is ensuring that its pharmacists make naloxone recommendations for patients who might be at risk for overdose. Walmart and Sam’s Club already make the opioid reversal antidote available at their in-store pharmacies and dispense it on request, where allowed by state law.
Walmart said it also plans to conduct additional training and education on opioid stewardship for its pharmacists, including a pain management curriculum. The company’s pharmacists already counsel patients using the CDC’s guidelines on pain management, with a focus on using the lowest effective dose for pain management for the shortest time possible.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced the rollout of a free opioid disposal solution, DisposeRx, at its pharmacies nationwide. Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy patients filling any new Class II opioid prescription get a free DisposeRx packet and opioid safety information brochure when picking up their medication.
DisposeRx provides a convenient way for patients to discard leftover opioid medicines at home. Patients with chronic Class II opioid prescriptions are offered a free DisposeRx packet every six months. Current pharmacy patients can request a free DisposeRx packet at any time, Walmart said.