Breakthrough for e-prescribing

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is praising the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for issuing an interim final rule that allows for the electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).

Calling the DEA’s enactment of the rule “historic,” NACDS says the move marks the first time that there can be a coordinated e-prescribing system for controlled and noncontrolled prescription medications.

The association points out that the inability to use e-prescribing for controlled substances thus far had been a major barrier to doctors’ adoption of e-prescribing technology.

“Today is truly an historic day for the health care system, as this will allow much-needed health information technology solutions to better serve patients. For the first time ever, EPCS will be permitted,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson commented when the DEA issued the final rule. “We thank DEA officials for issuing a workable rule to help make this technological capability a reality for physicians, pharmacies and their patients.”

NACDS notes that it has worked for more than a decade with the DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services, pharmacy partners, intermediaries such as Surescripts, technology vendors and other parties in the effort to bring EPCS to fruition.

Implementation is expected to take at least six months, allowing time for stakeholders to comply with the rule.

“Upon full implementation, this rule will help improve the quality of how patients receive their medications and can help cut costs to the overall health care system,” Anderson adds. “NACDS looks forward to continuing to work with DEA throughout the implementation of this interim final rule.”

Currently, most U.S. pharmacies have the capability to receive electronic prescriptions, according to NACDS. More than 97% of the nation’s drug chains use pharmacy applications tested and certified through Surescripts. The number of prescriptions routed electronically has risen from 68 million in 2008 to 191 million last year.


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