Healthcare Roundup—Walmart creates new opioid limits; drug distributors testify before Congress

Walmart sign
Walmart announced it will limit opioid prescriptions at its pharmacies. (Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0)

Walmart creates new opioid limits

Walmart will begin limiting the size of initial opioid medication prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply in all of its in-store pharmacies, including its Sam's Club pharmacies, the retail giant announced on Monday.

The policy, which is expected to take effect within the next 60 days, is part of its Opioid Stewardship Initiative. It is similar to an initiative instituted by CVS stores in February, NPR reported

By the end of the summer, Walmart said its pharmacists would begin using a controlled substance tracking tool called NarxCare and will ensure they have opioid reversal medication naloxone behind pharmacy counters of its stores. Starting in 2020, Walmart said it would also require e-prescriptions for controlled substances. 

Walmart said its policy is in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for opioid use. (Release

Drug executives testify before Congressional committee on opioid crisis

Several drug distributors addressed members of Congress in a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday about how the firms may have contributed to the U.S. opioid crisis.

One of the executives, Cardinal Health Executive Chairman George Barrett, apologized for not responding more quickly to signs his company should curb shipments of the drugs, the Washington Post reported.

But leaders of the companies who testified "downplayed" their role in fueling the epidemic in the U.S., indicating the blame lay with prescribers and pharmacists, drawing anger from committee members, CBS News reported

Hospital leaders believe mega-mergers will have biggest impact on industry this year  

At least 96 percent of health system and hospital leaders believe the pace of mergers and acquisitions will remain steady or continue growing in the second quarter, according to new survey data from TD Bank.

About 60 percent of the healthcare professionals said mega-mergers will have the biggest impact on the industry, according to the poll of about 100 hospital and health system professionals in attendance at the recent Becker’s Hospital Review & 9th Annual Meeting in Chicago.

When it came to corporate tax reform's impact on capital structure and foundation fundraising, the professionals said they expect the greatest impact would come from direct bank credit exposure and a decrease in public debt issuance (39%), followed by a reduction in corporate and individual/family fundraising (23%).

New healthcare financial analytics leadership council launched

With a goal of changing how the healthcare industry approaches financial decision support, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and financial consulting firm Kaufman Hall announced the launch of a Financial Analytics Research Council on Tuesday.

The council reflects the increasingly important role of analytics in managing financial performance, officials said in a statement. Kaufman Hall’s recent national survey of senior healthcare financial executives indicates a need for guidance on how to develop stronger analytical systems and practices.

An initial steering committee meeting will take place in conjunction with the HFMA Annual Conference in June. (Release)