Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) eliminates paper prescriptions entirely by allowing clinical prescribers to electronically write prescriptions for controlled substances. It also permits pharmacies to receive, dispense and archive these e-prescriptions.
EPCS also creates new “Identity Proofing” responsibilities for EHR vendors, prescribers and pharmacies by requiring two-factor authentication (e.g. using hard tokens such as those with one-time passwords), more robust audit trails and strict auditing procedures in order to comply with the DEA’s Interim Final Rule regulating EPCS.
While prescribing controlled substances electronically isn’t mandated by the federal government—states are still empowered to further regulate prescribing—this rule creates a significant benefit for almost every stakeholder, including pharmacists, drug companies, health plans, law enforcement agencies, providers and patients. In New York, EPCS is required by the Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP) law, which requires that all prescriptions for both legend drugs and controlled substances be sent electronically.
The number of EPCS-enabled pharmacies is growing fast
E-prescribing is now legalized in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, prompting more than 82 percent of retail pharmacies in the U.S. to become fully enabled to accept controlled substance prescriptions electronically—from Walmart and Target to smaller, independent stores. And the number is growing.
Why EPCS is necessary
Deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels. According to the CDC, 15,000 people die every year from overdoses involving prescription painkillers.
The regulation aims to quell the increasing rates of opioid-related addiction, abuse, diversion and death by making it more difficult for drug-seekers to doctor-shop and alter prescriptions.
DrFirst took the lead on controlled substance e-prescribing
DrFirst was the first company in the nation to have a certified EPCS solution, and laid the groundwork for electronic prescribing of controlled substances several years before the DEA rule. Thanks to a federally funded three-year pilot grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts, DrFirst in 2010 developed, tested and implemented an electronic prescribing program for controlled substances in Western Massachusetts, effectively allowing the ruling of EPCS to pass.
Today, our EPCS GoldSM system meets all of the DEA’s requirements, as well as Surescripts’ strict certification processes. We are committed to further leading the industry in best practices for the quality, usability and security of controlled substance e-prescribing.
The New York e-prescribing mandate, known as I-STOP, requires all prescriptions for legend and controlled drugs to be written and transmitted electronically.
Visit our I-STOP e-prescribing mandate page to learn everything you need to know about the law and how to comply. You can even purchase Rcopia EPCS Gold, our I-STOP compliant electronic prescribing system, today to fast-track your I-STOP readiness.