BALDWIN -- The opioid epidemic is far reaching, but local pharmacist Matthew Krawczak, owner of Pattie Drug in Baldwin has implemented a new program to help stem the addiction problem.

Pattie Drug began using red caution caps on prescription bottles that contain opiates about a month ago, Krawczak said. The bright red caps read "Caution, Opioid, risk of addiction or overdose," printed in white.

"The red caps on the prescription bottle separates the opiates from other medications," Krawczak said. "The state of Michigan has not made it a requirement yet, but we wanted to get ahead of the game. We wanted to be a part of that to help create awareness of the dangers of opiates."

Krawczak said the patient response has been very positive so far.

"They like that it really stands out in the medicine cabinet," he said. "It helps with the risk of addiction and overdose, because you can't hide it."

Jill Herb, accounting manager for Pharmacy Lite, a prescription vial packaging company, said the red caps are a powerful tool for drawing attention to the risks of taking opioids.

So far, Arizona and New Jersey are the only two states that have made the red caps mandatory, but others are expected to follow, she said.

"It's not going to solve the opioid crisis, but it gives people a warning of the dangers of taking them," Krawczak said. "In addition to the red caps, prescription vials will contain a yellow warning sticker stating risk of overdose and addiction."

Another program implemented in Michigan to combat the opioid problem is the Michigan Automated Prescription Service (MAPS), Krawczak said.

Pharmacies are required to report any prescriptions that are filled for an opioid drug, including the date it is filled, the amount of pills dispensed and the name of the pharmacy.

MAPS data assists health care providers and pharmacies in identifying evidence of potential diversion, such as obtaining controlled substance prescriptions from more than one provider, filling prescriptions early, filling prescriptions at multiple different pharmacies and filling prescriptions at distant pharmacies.

"When a prescription is filled it is entered into MAPS," Krawczak said. "Then a pharmacy can check the date the prescription was last filled, where and for how many pills. This helps identify patients that may be improperly seeking medication and helps prevent drug diversion."

Krawczak said pharmacies are often caught in the middle when it comes to the opioid issue, because they are often blamed for being part of the problem.

"It is difficult to distinguish between those who have a legitimate need and those that are seeking opioids for an addiction," he said. "We feel the pressure of trying to take care of patients and at the same time help curb the crisis."