Bipartisan bill could require every state to use EPCS March 26, 2018
In an effort to help combat the opioid addiction crisis and to stem the increase of forged and altered prescriptions, a bipartisan group of US Senators has introduced a bill that would mandate electronic prescriptions be used for controlled substances under Medicare. The Senate group includes Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Michael Bennet, D-Colorado; Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.
The “Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act” was introduced on February 27. The act requires physicians and other health care providers to use electronic prescriptions for controlled substances for Medicare Part D transactions. The mandate would take effect in 2020.
In a letter applauding the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, the National Association of Drug Store Chains pointed out that “EPCS prescriptions cannot be altered, cannot be copied, and are electronically trackable. Furthermore, the federal DEA rules for EPCS establish strict security measures, such as two-factor authentication, that reduce the likelihood of fraudulent prescribing.”
Prescription opioids account for more than half of the opioid-related deaths. Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) was introduced as a way to address high rates of drug abuse across the country. By making prescriptions harder to forge or steal, it reduces the ease with which teens and other citizens can access prescription drugs.
The Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act will “require e-prescribing for coverage under part D of the Medicare program of prescription drugs that are controlled substances.” When discussing the new act, Senator Benet said that “An epidemic of this magnitude requires us to address all aspects of the problem, starting with how providers prescribe opioids. This bipartisan legislation would expand a critical tool to track the use of opioids, ultimately reducing overdoses and saving lives.”
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that, on an average day in the US, more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed. Most of those prescriptions are written on paper and handed to the patient, which then makes them susceptible to misuse or fraud. Electronic prescriptions make it much more difficult to forge or steal prescriptions written for controlled substances such as opioids.