E-Prescribing Legislation Wins Praise from Chain Drug Stores

OCTOBER 01, 2004
Ken Rankin

Chain drug store industry leaders have praised Congress for encouraging pharmacists and physicians to switch to electronic prescribing systems?a move that figures to reduce the risk of medication mix-ups while easing the workload in the nation's community pharmacies.

In applauding lawmakers for including language in the Medicare Modernization Act to promote the adoption of electronic prescription connectivity, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Chief Executive Officer Craig Fuller told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health that "e-prescribing" technology will help improve both the safety and efficiency of the prescribing process, as well as improve the quality of medication decisions.

In testimony before the panel, Fuller said that the use of paperless electronic prescribing is a safer and more efficient solution than current handwritten prescriptions and telephone communications between pharmacists and physicians.

"Errors are more likely to occur at several points during the medication prescribing and delivery process of the existing paper prescription system," Fuller explained. "The Institute for Safe Medication Practices estimates that indecipherable or unclear prescriptions result in more than 150 million calls from pharmacists to physicians asking for clarification."

The chain drug industry group is working with the National Community Pharmacists Association to promote e-prescribing through a joint "Sure- Scripts" initiative that electronically creates and transmits prescriptions. SureScripts is now the nation's largest electronic prescription network, with 66% of all community pharmacies and 50,000 US physicians able to connect to the system, the NACDS CEO said.