NACDS Applauds DEA Guidance on Forwarding of Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances


Key aspect of NACDS Regulatory Reform Initiative will benefit patients and enhance use of e-prescribing to prevent drug abuse and diversion

Arlington, Va. — NACDS applauds guidance provided this week by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that addresses a priority of NACDS’ Regulatory Reform Initiative, and that simultaneously benefits patient care and the prevention of drug abuse and diversion.

Specifically, the guidance states that a DEA-registered pharmacy may forward to another DEA-registered pharmacy an unfilled, original, electronic prescription for controlled substances that the pharmacy is unable to fill for any reason.

“NACDS is unwavering in its commitment to working with all parties to help find and implement solutions to opioid issues, while providing appropriate patient care. This has been, and remains, a top priority of NACDS, and we appreciate the DEA’s action on this guidance, which we consider to be entirely consistent with patient care and with the proper handling of controlled substances,” said NACDS President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE.

“Simply put, this guidance encourages the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances, and removes a substantial barrier to doing so. Electronic prescribing has significant advantages over other forms of transmitting a prescription because it reduces opportunities for fraud and abuse.”

NACDS has consistently urged the DEA to issue guidance on the forwarding of unfilled electronic prescriptions for controlled substances and in May provided comments to the agency asking for clarification. This new guidance specifically addresses the issue, which benefits both patients and healthcare providers.

The ability to forward electronic prescriptions for controlled substances streamlines the process of filling prescriptions by taking out an added—and unnecessary—step in the process because it means a pharmacist no longer needs to call a healthcare provider to issue a new prescription, which delays patient access to needed medications and also discourages the use of electronic prescriptions.

NACDS is a strong proponent of electronic prescriptions because they are more efficient, improve prescription accuracy, and they make it easier for patients to get the medications they need, while also helping to prevent fraud and abuse. Prescribers are easily able to track electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, which cannot be altered or copied. In addition, and importantly, because of DEA safety measures for electronic controlled substances prescriptions, they reduce the risk of fraudulent prescribing and curb prescription drug abuse.

On a related note, earlier this month Anderson submitted comments to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, stating: “Chain pharmacies engage daily in activities with the goal of preventing drug diversion and abuse. Since chain pharmacies operate in almost every community in the U.S., we support policies and initiatives to combat the prescription drug abuse problem nationwide.”

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