New Walmart Policy Further Limits Opioid Prescriptions

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By: Libby McDannell, ArMA Executive Vice President

Earlier this year, Walmart issued a new policy for its pharmacies that limits the fill of initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a 7-day supply with up to a 50 morphine milligram equivalent maximum per day; with some exceptions. In many states, including Arizona, the Walmart policy is more restrictive than state law. This creates a potential conflict between physician orders and pharmacy policy as well as additional burdens on physicians through patient confusion and denials of care.

On a national level, the American Medical Association (AMA) has expressed concerns with the Walmart policy and recently sent the enclosed letter (LINK).

Leadership from the Arizona Medical Association (ARMA) has also gotten involved and reached out to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy to discuss the impact of the policy on patient care. Through those conversations, we learned that Walmart’s policy falls under federal jurisdiction, and Arizona statutes do not have the authority to overturn the policy. Additionally, it was noted that pharmacists have the authority to deny filling a valid prescription if it is their professional judgment that it will result in harm to the patient.

Dr. Traci Pritchard, ArMA President, believes the Walmart policy is well-intended, but that a blunt, broad, one-size fits all approach, could be detrimental to patient care. ArMA advocates that clinical decision making should be decided by physicians and not compromised by outside factors.

ArMA plans to closely monitor this new policy. We are asking the physician community to share feedback on the Walmart policy and also report any situation in which you or your patients were directly impacted by the policy. With this data, ArMA will have a better understanding of whether the policy is adversely impacting patient care.

Please take a moment to complete our survey on Walmart’s new pharmacy policy.

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