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01:48 - Source: CNN

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Pharmacy program includes limiting daily dosages of pain-killing drugs based on strength

The program will roll out February 1 and cover all clients, regardless of health plan

CNN  — 

In a new effort to tackle the deadly opioid addiction crisis in the United States, pharmacy giant CVS announced Friday that it will limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions. This restriction will apply to patients who are new to pain therapy.

The new pharmacy program will also limit the daily dosage of pain pills based on their strength and will require use of immediate-release formulations before extended-release opioids – intended for severe, long-term pain treatment – are dispensed.

The changes will roll out February 1 and cover all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients.

CVS, which manages medications for nearly 90 million plan members, is one of the largest pharmaceutical chains in the US, with approximately 9,600 CVS Pharmacy stores and more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics.

“With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health.

Sales of prescription opioids quadruple from 1999 to 2014