Bipartisan legislation in U.S. Congress requires e-prescribing to combat opioid abuse

Dr. Sean Kelly
Aug 14, 2017

On July 28, federal legislators introduced HR 3528, The Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act – bipartisan legislation that would require healthcare providers to prescribe opioids and other medications electronically through a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) worked together closely to co-sponsor HR 3528, which mandates electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) to make it more difficult to commit prescription fraud, and to help ensure that drugs end up in the right hands.

Current EPCS legislation

Six states – New York, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, and North Carolina – have already enacted legislation mandating EPCS. Introduction of this federal legislation quickly increases the impact that technology can have in preventing addiction before it happens and in combatting the national prescription drug abuse epidemic.

What’s perhaps most encouraging about the introduction of this federal EPCS legislation is congressional lawmakers’ readiness to focus on upstream solutions to the opioid epidemic by employing already-existing e-prescribing technology that is proven and usable.

HR 3528 marks a historic milestone for the recognition of the role information technology can play in combatting prescription drug abuse, and, particularly, opioids.

Opioid abuse at epidemic levels

Every day, nearly 100 Americans die from opioid overdoses. In 2015, there were 33,000 opioid-related deaths nationwide – more than any other year on record. For every one of these deaths, there are 130 chronic abusers and 32 emergency room visits to treat overdoses. As an emergency physician at a busy teaching hospital in Boston, I consistently care for a number of these patients on every ER shift I work. This is a public health epidemic that impacts our communities and puts a significant strain on the healthcare industry.

As a leading solutions provider, Imprivata is a trusted authority on EPCS. We are positioned to help customers meet all regulatory requirements for EPCS while ensuring a fast and easy workflow and experience for providers, pharmacists, and most importantly, patients.

While the initial introduction of the bill is the first of many steps toward enacting it into law, it marks an exciting time for Imprivata and the positive impact our products can have on patient care.