ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has backed federal legislation to require electronic prescribing for controlled-substance medications in Medicare Part D.
NACDS said Wednesday that the bill — the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (H.R. 3528), introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D., Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R., Okla.) — is in line with the association’s support of e-prescribing and public policy that leverages the advantages of the technology.
“We believe the legislation is an important step in combatting the abuse and diversion of prescription opioid medications. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances adds new dimensions of safety and security,” NACDS President and CEO Steve Anderson wrote in a letter to Clark and Mullin.
“Prescribers can more easily track the controlled substance prescriptions a patient has received. Additionally, electronic controlled-substance prescriptions cannot be altered, cannot be copied and are electronically trackable,” Anderson explained. “Furthermore, the federal DEA rules for electronic controlled-substances prescriptions establish strict security measures, such as two-factor authentication, that reduce the likelihood of fraudulent prescriptions.”
In announcing the legislation this week, Clark and Mullin cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research finding that 27% of those at the highest risk of overdose are prescribed painkillers by more than one doctor. The bill also aims to eliminate duplicate prescriptions for controlled substances under Medicare.
“Modernizing public health practices to include electronic prescriptions will curb the overprescribing of opioids, eliminate the costs and inefficiencies of paperwork, and strengthen communication between doctors and patients,” according to Clark. “Congress should come together to pass this commonsense solution to prevent overdoses and save lives.”
Mullin noted that H.R. 3528 would help ensure that patients receive opioids only when necessary and prevent controlled-substance medicines “from falling into the wrong hands.”
“Our bill, the EPCS Act, aims to close a dangerous loophole that has been fueling the problem of excessively prescribed opioids,” he stated. “By requiring all doctors and pharmacists to use an online database when prescribing these highly addictive drugs, we allow e-prescriptions to control, track and monitor these highly addictive painkillers on a new level. This bill prevents patients from doctor shopping and prevents fraudulent, handwritten paper prescriptions.”
Last month, NACDS hailed guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding the forwarding of such controlled-substance prescriptions. By stating that a DEA-registered pharmacy can forward to another DEA-registered pharmacy an unfilled, original e-prescription for a controlled substance that the pharmacy is unable to fill for any reason, the guidance “encourages the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances, and removes a substantial barrier to doing so,” according to Anderson.