CVS Health Corp. agreed to pay Massachusetts $795,000 and overhaul its opioid dispensing practices to settle allegations that prior to 2013 certain CVS locations failed to use “sound professional judgment” and filled prescriptions of the powerful painkillers for customers even after being warned not to do so. U.S. Attorney General Maura Healey called this latest action a “big deal,” citing more than 1,500 opioid overdose-related deaths in 2015 alone.
Attorney General Healey’s office discovered during an investigation that certain CVS locations in the state failed to provide pharmacists with adequate internet service to access the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. The online database monitors patients’ prescription histories and was set up to curb abuse of prescription medications, such as opioids, which are the most abused prescription drugs in the country.
Opioids are a class of powerful painkillers such as morphine, Oxycontin and heroin. The drugs give patients a feeling of euphoria, and are easily misused and abused. Massachusetts is one of several states, counties and cities who have started pushing back at drug companies for misleading doctors and patients about the highly addictive nature of the drugs, which in turn fuels the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Massachusetts isn’t the only state to file charges against opioid manufacturers. Suffock County in New York filed a lawsuit against 11 pharmaceutical companies. Two counties in California, the city of Chicago, and the state of Kentucky have filed similar lawsuits.
CVS now requires pharmacists at its Massachusetts locations not to dispense certain prescription drugs without first reviewing the customer’s prescription history. The company has also revised its prescription drug policies and improved training of pharmacists. All of this is the result of Massachusetts lawsuit.
Sources: Righting Injustice and PharmPro
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