As one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the country, Walmart has often been put under fire for not taking a harsher stance against the opioid crisis (as competitors like CVS recently have). Well, now the retail giant is hoping to change perception with a new policy that limits refills and first time prescriptions of prescription painkillers.
In a recent announcement, Walmart revealed on its site that both its primary brand and its Sam’s Club offshoot will be restricting opioid fill limits to up to seven days nationwide. Within the next 60 days, all locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico will roll out the program (which aims to curb habits from forming by limiting initial use).
Beyond that, they also will begin phasing out written prescriptions for controlled substances. Instead, the site says, they require e-prescriptions only; which are said to be less prone to errors and cannot be altered or copied.
“We are taking action in the fight against the nation’s opioid epidemic,” Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of Walmart Health & Wellness and Consumables, said in a statement. “And 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.”
The site page goes into many more plans of action to help address the crisis. For one, the company claims to be conducting new trainings with its pharmacists and prescription fillers. The goal is better educate them about opioid abuse and provide naloxone recommendations to assist with any customer who may be prone to an overdose.
Apparently, Walmart is also aligning with the recent Drug Take-Back Day mission that happened last month. To help promote the disposal of medications, they will begin offering DisposeRx, which is a powder that can combined with water and pills to safely destroy leftover prescriptions.
And in case you were wondering, a move like this could actually make a pretty big difference across the country. Walmart serves nearly 270 million customers each week and has over 11,700 stores throughout the greater U.S. Aligning them with an anti-addiction strategy could impact a large percentage of the population.
As they concluded on their site, Walmart aims to make its biggest dent via addiction education.
“We believe education on prescription drug abuse is a key part of the solution,” the site says. “Walmart helps sponsor youth-based curriculums on the risks associated with prescription drug abuse, including Prescription for Life with EverFi. These programs are educational tools that empower students with information and skills to address the opioid epidemic, should they face it in their community.”