Fellow physicians, do you feel yourselves shrinking? You should. After slogging through post-graduate training and years of private practice, you may have learned some ways to evaluate and treat patients that do not fit neatly into pre-formed, arbitrary whims handed down from the medical experts prowling state capitals, D.C., and lawyers’ offices. And most of us have learned that in the Age of Homogenizing Quality, experience and intuition count for increasingly less if anything at all.
CVS pharmacies are leading what is bound to be a tsunami of “yes, me too!” that will sweep throughout health care. After being told to prescribe more opioids for years, then told not to for years, and then told physicians are THE problem, CVS is going to further protect us (and everyone else) from ourselves by limiting opioids to seven day prescriptions “for certain conditions.” I didn’t see in the article exactly what conditions they will specify, but how nice of a store chain to empower pharmacists to tell me, burdened with an undue amount of clinical experience, what a given condition would merit for pain control. “Daily dosage limits will be based on the strength of the painkiller and CVS pharmacists will require the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed.” Because I can’t be trusted to write for ten Oxycontins as opposed to fifteen Percocets.
“When filling prescription for opioid pills, pharmacists will also be required to talk to patients about the risks of addiction, secure storage of medications in the home and proper disposal.” Bet the poor pharmacists and techs will love that, in between dealing with forgetful seniors bitching about their subsidized drug prices.
“Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Health. ‘We’ve got an epidemic on our hands, and we’ve got clear evidence that, if we restrict access to these medications, more than we’re doing so right now, we’ll reduce the amount of addiction that occurs, and as a result of that, we’ll reduce the amount of human suffering.'” A mouthpiece like this would make a fine addition to any major insurance, hospital corporation, or short list for surgeon general nominees.
This story is more evidence that the medical profession is shrinking as rapidly as the judgment and experience of its highly trained practitioners is being discarded.