CVS, eight pharmacy companies pledge partnership fighting opioid abuse in letter to president

IN A LETTER TO President Donald Trump, pharmacy industry CEOs, including CVS Health Corp. CEO Larry J. Merlo, pledging their commitment to stemming the opioid addiction epidemic and suggesting a public-private partnership. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/DAVID PAUL MORRIS
IN A LETTER TO President Donald Trump, pharmacy industry CEOs, including CVS Health Corp. CEO Larry J. Merlo, pledging their commitment to stemming the opioid addiction epidemic and suggesting a public-private partnership. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/DAVID PAUL MORRIS

WOONSOCKET —  CVS Health CEO Larry J. Merlo joined eight other pharmacy industry CEOs in signing a letter to President Trump Wednesday pledging their commitment to stemming the opioid addiction epidemic and suggesting a public-private partnership to that effect.

“We stand committed to engage in a public-private partnership and to work in the most collaborative fashion across the health care system to help solve the national health care crisis of opioid abuse,” the letter’s final paragraph reads.

The letter was also signed by Tim Wentworth, CEO and president, Express Scripts, Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO and president of Hy-Vee, Inc., Bridget-ann Hart, CEO, KPH Healthcare Services, Inc., Mostafa Kamal, CEO, Magellan Rx Management, Stefano Pessina, EVP, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Greg Foran, President & CEO, Rite Aid Coporation.

The letter outlines several proposals aimed at curbing the epidemic, including legislation mandating e-prescriptions.

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According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, only 14 percent of controlled substance prescriptions are issued electronically, said Erin Shields Britt, director of corporate communications at CVS.  E-prescribing, or transmitting a prescription electronically from the prescriber’s office to the pharmacy, enhances security and curbs fraud, waste and abuse of opioid prescriptions, she said.

The letter also states support of a seven-day limit on acute opioid prescriptions and e-prescribing for opioids.

“Each of our organizations has launched programs focused on opioid abuse education and prevention. We are already seeing positive results in reducing the number of opioids prescribed and filled, resulting in reduced opportunities for misuse and abuse. Through the implementation of our programs, we have identified additional opportunities to combat the epidemic. For example, we have all developed capabilities to support electronic prescribing of controlled substances and we would encourage and pledge to work with the federal government – and all states – to mandate this practice for the benefit of patients and providers.”

When asked if President Trump had replied to the letter yet, Britt said the company declined to comment.

Read the full letter here.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com

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