White House opioid commission includes EPCS among new anti-drug recommendations

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) should increase the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS), according to one of the 56 recommendations presented to President Donald Trump on Wednesday by The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

Chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the Commission undertook a 7-month examination of the national opioid crisis, producing a report calling for wide-ranging changes to anti-drug policies. The Commission made 56 formal recommendations to President Trump based on input from health and law enforcement, policymakers, as well as individuals and families impacted by the opioid crisis.

Among these recommendations, #15 urges the DEA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to “increase electronic prescribing to prevent diversion and forgery.” In particular, the Commission advises the DEA to encourage the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances.

Building Momentum

This is perhaps the clearest sign yet that momentum for EPCS is building – particularly among regulators. Given the impact technology is making on this public health crisis, both regulators and providers are embracing EPCS as a key tool in the fight against opioid abuse.

DEA regulations for EPCS in present form require healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) to prove their ability to secure, track, and audit the connection between practitioners and the signatures they use for EPCS orders.

These requirements, coupled with the complexity of the DEA rule, have historically slowed EPCS adoption. Recent technology advancements now position HDOs meet DEA and state-level EPCS requirements more easily, however, giving early momentum to EPCS as an important tool in the regulatory effort to fight opioid abuse. The Commission’s EPCS recommendation to President Trump gives EPCS a further regulatory boost.

Legislative Track

This regulatory momentum is matched by state and federal legislation that enact EPCS mandates. To date, EPCS has been mandated through legislation in six states – New York, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, and North Carolina – and several additional states are considering similar laws. In addition, federal legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. Congress that would mandate the use of EPCS nationally for the Medicare Part D program.

EPCS is a proven technology solution that can significantly minimize the risk of drug diversion, DEA number theft, forged prescriptions, “doctor shopping,” and other fraudulent or negligent activities that fuel the opioid abuse epidemic. The President’s opioid commission clearly recognizes this reality, and wisely included EPCS among its key recommendations.

We look forward to helping advance this technology solution as one of the central prongs in our national battle against the opioid epidemic.

For information about Imprivata’s EPCS technology solution, Imprivata Confirm ID, visit https://www.imprivata.com/epcs.