BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The world’s largest retailer introduces additional measures to help curb opioid abuse.
Walmart and Sam’s Club created the Opioid Stewardship Initiative, as a way of positively impacting the lives of their patients.
William Cook, Walmart Regional Health and Wellness Director, said Walmart is looking at ways to help curb the opioid epidemic.
Walmart alone plays an important role.
We’ve got around 17,000 pharmacists.William Cook, Director, Regional Health & Wellness, Walmart Region 42
Cook said one of the key factors Walmart started implementing was restricting initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply to help ensure a new user isn’t getting too strong of a dose.
“If you think about a prescription for a broken bone or some emergent need that you have there could be a wide range of the strength of medications that a physician might prescribe,” Cook said.
Another factor is creating a safe way for users to dispose of extra medication.
Cook said Walmart is doing this through Dispose RX, which comes free with each opioid prescription.
“It allows a patient to mix this little packet with the remaining pills,” Cook said. “They can shake it up and it turns into a gel which is biodegradable and they can throw it away.”
It prevents someone from getting a hold of those medications and using them after the fact.William Cook, Director, Regional Health & Wellness, Walmart Region 42
Walmart is also trying to get Narcan in as many hands of patients as they can, requiring their pharmacists to teach their patients about it and recommend it.
“We know that to save someone in an overdose one of the best things you can do is to have that antidote Narcan,” Cook said.
Walmart also tried to roll out requiring e-prescriptions for controlled substances in January 2020, but after realizing many providers, networks, and prescribers, wouldn’t have the technology and systems in place to do that — they pushed it back to January 2021.
“This is going to coincide with the government,” Cook said. “It’s going to allow us to accurately prescribe these medications and not have to worry about handwritten prescriptions which introduce the risk of forgers.”
Cook said Walmart doesn’t want to negatively affect patients who have legitimate medical needs, so as they wait for everyone to be ready to get on board — they will continue to ask their pharmacists to use their professional judgment when evaluating these types of prescriptions.