Going All Digital on Controlled Substances

More than five years after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an interim final rule that legalized electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS), providers and pharmacies are slowly starting to embrace the change.

The initial rule, in March 2010, mandated usage of two-factor authentication technology to enable EPCS. The DEA argued that this would quell previous concerns about potential drug diversion, altering and forgery of controlled, addictive substances. For providers, two-factor authentication means prescribing systems must include two safeguards between a hard token, a biometric reader or something knowledge-based.

Since that rule, practitioners and pharmacies have crawled toward adoption. A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care (2014;20[11 Spec No. 17]:SP541-SP546) found that only 1% of e-prescribing physicians were set up for EPCS by the end of 2013 and 30% of retail pharmacies were prepared for it.

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