Hy-Vee pharmacies are implementing a new prescription policy aimed at combatting the national opioid epidemic.
A Friday news release from Hy-Vee's corporate offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, said the store's pharmacies will no longer allow subsequent fills of Schedule II controlled substances or refills of Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substances more than 72 hours early without the prescribers' authorization. Hy-Vee will also stop accepting GoodRx coupons for controlled substance prescriptions.
Schedule II controlled substances include hydromorphone, methadone, meperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, opium, codeine and hydrocodone, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule III drugs include products containing no more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dose and buprenorphine.
Hy-Vee's policy changes were effective Tuesday.
Kristin Williams, senior vice president and chief health officer for Hy-Vee, said in the release that more than 100 people die every day as the result of the opioid epidemic. The release also cited data from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that 47,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses in 2017. That's the highest number on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve prescription medicines.
"Implementing this 72-hour policy is one more step toward combatting the opioid epidemic in communities throughout the eight states we serve," she said.
Those states are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
HyVee offers naloxone, a drug that can counter the effects of opioid overdoses, in both nasal spray and injection forms without prescriptions in all eight states. The drug is available behind the counter at variable prices.
Hy-Vee pharmacies will also spread the knowledge of the sign of an opioid overdose and medication administration with the patients and their families in case the emergency appears. The medication has no effect without opioids.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.