Controlled Substance E-Prescribing Now Permitted Nationally

All US states now permit electronic prescribing of controlled substances, with Missouri's recent formal authorization making it the final state to do so.

All US states now permit electronic prescribing of controlled substances, with Missouri’s recent formal authorization making it the final state to do so.

Missouri’s rule became effective July 30, 2015, but the state pharmacy board noted that controlled substance e-prescribing is not mandatory, so it may take some time before all prescribers are authorized and prepared for this change.

The Missouri Board of Pharmacy also noted that controlled substance e-script requirements would place a focus on security and the manner of transmitting for practitioners, while the focus for pharmacies would be on security and archiving.

Back in 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) revised regulations to give prescribers the option to write e-prescriptions for controlled substances such as opioids, and also permit pharmacies to receive, dispense, and archive these e-scripts.

The DEA said these regulations could help prevent prescription errors due to bad handwriting or misunderstood oral prescriptions. It also maintained that pharmacies could increase efficiency by integrating prescription records into other medical records more directly, so patients could see shorter wait times.

E-prescribing has also been shown to allow pharmacists to focus more on providing direct patient care.

Pharmacy Times Health-System Edition Editor Stephen Eckel, PharmD, MHA, BCPA, FASHP, FAPhA, previously said e-prescribing and other pharmacy technologies “free the pharmacists’ time up to be at the bedside [of patients] in the new practice model, as opposed to the traditional model where we relied on humans.”

The percentage of US pharmacies with systems in place to accept controlled substance e-prescriptions rose from 13% in July 2012 to 30% in December 2013, but only 1% of e-prescribers were prepared to write e-scripts for controlled substances as of December 2013, according to a study.

Meanwhile, pharmacists in other states have been preparing to accept only electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, even though the majority of prescribers are still not ready for this change.

In March 2015, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed state legislation to delay the deadline for mandatory e-prescriptions by 1 year. New York’s new effective date for the e-prescribing mandate is now March 27, 2016.