Newly introduced controlled substance e-prescribing bill gets industry support

ARLINGTON, Va. — Two members of Congress have introduced legislation that would mandate electronic prescribing for controlled substances under Medicare Part D. Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., introduced the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act in the House Wednesday afternoon. 

“Opioids claim nearly a hundred lives a day, and parents across the country worry they will be next to get the call their child has overdosed,” Clark said. “Modernizing public health practices to include electronic prescriptions will curb the over-prescribing of opioids, eliminate the costs and inefficiencies of paperwork, and strengthen communication between doctors and patients. Congress should come together to pass this commonsense solution to prevent overdoses and save lives.”

The legislation drew immediate support from the National Association The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which sees it as in-line with some of the recommendations the organization shared in a recent letter to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. NACDS president Steve Anderson wrote a letter to the bill’s sponsors commending its introduction. 
 

“We believe the legislation is an important step in combatting the abuse and diversion of prescription opioid medications. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances adds new dimensions of safety and security,” he wrote. “Prescribers can more easily track the controlled substance prescriptions a patient has received. Additionally, electronic controlled substance prescriptions cannot be altered, cannot be copied, and are electronically trackable. Furthermore, the federal DEA rules for electronic controlled substances prescriptions establish strict security measures, such as two-factor authentication, that reduce the likelihood of fraudulent prescriptions.”

In the letter, Anderson described its consistent support for the advancement of electronic prescribing, as well the evolution of public policy to leverage advantages of the technology. He also expressed appreciation for the legislators’ efforts to craft the legislation in a way that acknowledges and addresses instances in which electronic prescribing is not feasible or may not be possible.

“Oklahoma is consistently ranked among the highest in the nation in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers,” Mullin said. “Despite federal and local efforts, we have seen the opioid epidemic creep into our communities at alarming rates. We need to ensure that patients are receiving opioids only when absolutely necessary and take precautionary measures to prohibit them from falling into the wrong hands. Our bill, the EPCS Act, aims to close a dangerous loophole that has been fueling the problem of excessively prescribed opioids.”

The introduction of H.R. 3528 follows another recent and positive development for the use of e-prescribing for controlled substances. NACDS in July applauded a DEA guidance regarding the forwarding of such prescriptions. By explicitly stating that a DEA-registered pharmacy may forward to another DEA-registered pharmacy an unfilled, original e-prescription for controlled substances that the pharmacy is unable to fill for any reason, the guidance “encourages the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances, and removes a substantial barrier to doing so,” Anderson said.

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