CVS Caremark's fight against Rx drug abuse further illustrates vital role of community retail pharmacy

To help battle the national prescription drug abuse epidemic in the country, CVS Caremark embarked on a program whereby it tapped its extensive database to identify and halt inappropriate prescribing of high-risk drugs.

The reality is that drug stores have been caught in the middle of the nation's prescription drug abuse epidemic, and CVS Caremark’s efforts are an example of the larger role that retail pharmacy can play.

Looking at the stats, it is easy to see why such initiatives are critical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2010, 22,134 (60%) were related to pharmaceuticals. Of the 22,134 deaths relating to prescription drug overdose in 2010, 75% involved opioid analgesics (also called opioid pain relievers or prescription painkillers), and 30% involved benzodiazepines.

As Troy Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, stated when announcing the results of the program, “Prescription drug abuse in this country is an epidemic, but it doesn’t have to be.”

While the pharmacy company acknowledges that the program is not a “comprehensive solution to prescription drug abuse,” there’s no doubt that it is an important step in combating the epidemic.

The good news is that CVS Caremark isn’t alone it its efforts. Several other retailers have joined the fight, including Cardinal Health with its Generation Rx Initiative.