New York’s Electronic Prescribing Mandate: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

New York’s Electronic Prescribing Mandate: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about New York’s Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) requirement, which took effect March 27, 2016.

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What is I-STOP? 

I-STOP (Internet System for Over-Prescribing Act) is a New York law intended to reduce the over-prescription of painkillers through expanded electronic monitoring methods. The law was passed in 2012 and consists of two stages. Stage I was implemented August 27, 2013, when all New York prescribers were required to consult the New York Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Registry when writing a prescription for a Schedule II, III and IV controlled substance. (See “New York’s Drug Prescription Monitoring Program.”)

Stage II took effect March 27, 2016, and requires New York prescribers to electronically prescribe all substances, controlled and non-controlled.

I-STOP is mandatory for all prescribing practitioners in New York, excluding veterinarians.

Is EPCS mandatory for New York State practitioners?

Yes. It is now mandatory for practitioners, excluding veterinarians, to issue electronic prescriptions for controlled and non-controlled substances.

Is DrFirst’s EPCS Gold an approved electronic prescribing computer application?

Yes, EPCS Gold has undergone all necessary audits and certifications, and is an approved application for electronic prescribing in New York and in every other state in the U.S.

If a practitioner already prescribes non-controlled substances electronically, what additional steps does he or she need to take in order to begin prescribing controlled substances electronically?

Several steps are necessary:

  1. The software used by that provider must meet federal security requirements for electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS),  which can be found on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) web page.
  2. The provider must complete the identity proofing process.
  3. The provider must  obtain a two-factor authentication.
  4. The provider must register his or her DEA certified EPCS software with the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE).


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When can I fax/phone in a prescription?

A fax is not an electronic prescription in the State of New York and DrFirst does not transmit prescriptions by fax, even in the event an electronic prescription transmission fails.

You are encouraged to consult the resources provided by the New York Department of Health, such as the I-STOP FAQs, to determine when/if an exception applies that will allow you to fax or phone in a prescription to a pharmacy.

Can I be exempted from complying?

Only under certain circumstances. One-year waivers are granted by the Health Commissioner on a case-by-case basis. A waiver may be issued based on a showing by the waiver applicant that their ability to issue an electronic prescription is unduly burdened by economic hardship, technological limitations not reasonably within the control of the practitioner, or other exceptional circumstances. Prescribing practitioners can apply for a waiver here.  (See “How to obtain an e-prescribing waiver.“)

Are there circumstances/exceptions to the e-prescribing mandate? 

Yes. The New York State Health Department issued a memo in March 2016 that described 12 situations in which doctors are temporarily exempted from complying with the law, such as when writing a prescription for compounds or “that contains long or complicated directions.”

Will practitioners be required to prescribe non-prescription items electronically, such as durable medical equipment?

No. New York’s e-prescribing mandate applies to prescription drugs. 

Do practitioners still have to consult the PMP Registry when e-prescribing?


I am not licensed or practicing in New York, but have a patient who uses a pharmacy in New York. Do I have to register my certified EPCS software application with BNE to send electronic prescriptions for controlled substances to pharmacies in the state of New York?

No. You must follow your state’s law and regulations.

Can I send an electronic prescription for a controlled substance to an out-of-state pharmacy?

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances is legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

More information, including answers to dozens of additional questions, can be found here.

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Can my agent/employee/delegate transmit the electronic prescriptions I have written to the pharmacy?

No. The State of New York has said that providers cannot use a provider agent to write or send prescriptions on their behalf. Non-practitioner staff may enter the prescription information, but only practitioners may review and sign prescriptions. Non-physician practitioners, such as Physician’s Assistants, may prescribe using their own prescriber account that corresponds to their own DEA Registrant number. All non-physician prescriptions must contain the name of the supervising physician. Under no circumstances should a practitioner share their two-factor authorization token or passphrase with any other person, including staff members or delegates.

What do I do if I believe my two-factor authorization token has been lost, stolen, or used by another individual with or without my knowledge?

Report the misuse to DrFirst and the DEA within 1 business day of discovering the misuse.

For answers to additional FAQs, visit the New York State Department of Health’s list of answers to frequently asked questions.  

DrFirst offers two market-leading electronic prescribing solutions:

  • RcopiaRcopia® is the leading electronic prescribing, medication history and medication adherence monitoring solution in the industry. More than 300 EHR vendors and 40,000+ providers trust Rcopia by DrFirst to electronically send prescription orders to retail and mail order pharmacies nationwide. Click here to learn more about Rcopia.
  • EPCS Gold: Allows practitioners to send electronic prescriptions for controlled substances to retail or mail order pharmacies within the same workflow used to electronically prescribe legend drugs. EPCS Gold makes prescribing more efficient, helps advance patient medication adherence and increases patient satisfaction by making the process more convenient. Click here to learn more about EPCS Gold.