More Pharmacies Accepting Controlled Substance E-Prescriptions

The number of pharmacies accepting electronic prescriptions for controlled substances has increased substantially in a short time period.

The number of pharmacies accepting electronic prescriptions for controlled substances has increased substantially in a short time period, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care that relied on data from Surescripts, an e-prescription service.

In June 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration revised its regulations to allow e-prescribing for controlled substances, such as opioids. Nevertheless, little research has been conducted thus far on e-prescriptions for such medications, the current study authors noted.

During their study, researchers from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and University of Toledo College of Pharmacy, as well as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, discovered that the percentage of US pharmacies with systems in place to accept e-prescriptions for controlled substances increased from 8786 (13%) in July 2012 to 20,498 (30%) in December 2013, with 690 new pharmacies becoming enabled to accept such e-prescriptions each month, on average.

In the same 18-month period, the number of e-prescriptions for controlled substances leaped from 1535 to 52,423—an average increase of approximately 3000 per month. Still, on the provider side, only 1% of all e-prescribers were enabled to e-prescribe for controlled substances as of December 2013.

“There is not enough perceived incentive for providers to adopt (e-prescribing for controlled substances), while the authentication and registration process might be viewed as ‘additional work.’ In contrast, the business case for adoption is stronger among pharmacies; if they do not keep up with the competition, they may lose business, and so they tend to adopt more quickly than providers,” the study authors wrote. “…Providers and pharmacies who will be engaged in (e-prescribing for controlled substances) should quickly familiarize themselves with federal and state requirements.”