ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to make electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS) mandatory.
In comments on the reopening of the Interim Final Rule (IFR) for EPCS, NACDS described the significant benefits associated with EPCS, and recommendations on how best to achieve them.
“For more than 20 years NACDS has collaborated with DEA on the development and implementation of policies and standards for EPCS. We remain committed to the use of electronic prescriptions for all medications, especially controlled substances,” NACDS wrote.
NACDS noted that further DEA action would build on an NACDS-backed federal law that requires electronic prescribing of controlled substances in Medicare Part D, beginning in 2021. It also would build on NACDS-backed action by more than half of the states to require electronic prescribing of opioids, all controlled substances, or all prescriptions.
NACDS strongly supports the use of electronic prescribing as an important tool to improve safety and security in the prescribing process, and to combat the abuse, misuse and diversion of controlled substances. Significant benefits of electronic prescribing include: safeguards against unauthorized changes, reproduction and diversion of controlled substance prescriptions; further reductions in medication errors; improved patient care and outcomes – including clinical decision-making at the point of care; enhanced workflow in healthcare settings; and cost savings due to improved patient outcomes.
For example, the effectiveness, safety and security of mandatory e-prescribing have been apparent in New York State where – after implementing its own mandatory electronic prescribing law – the state saw a 70% reduction in the rate of lost or stolen prescription forms.
NACDS’ recommendations for enhancing the rule flow from the fact that pharmacies have been engaged in the effective use of electronic prescribing for quite some time, and modifications in the rule are necessary to reflect the advancements that pharmacies have made. NACDS recommends changes to the audit requirements for software applications to make them consistent with pharmacies’ current practices in ensuring the use of the latest technologies, and to prevent duplicative and unproductive audits.
“Pharmacies remain absolutely committed to serving as a part of the solution to opioid abuse and addiction,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven Anderson. “Considering the significant and substantial benefits of EPCS, further action by the DEA to make electronic prescriptions mandatory is the logical next step in helping to address this ongoing issue, and in improving patient health outcomes in every community.”